A onetime aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) who previously accused the former governor of sexual harassment filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Cuomo and several of his top aides.
Charlotte Bennett, 27, sued Cuomo for sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Three of the former governor’s top aides — Melissa DeRosa, Jill DesRosiers and Judith Mogul — were also named in the federal lawsuit.
“My career as a public servant was abruptly cut short because of Governor Cuomo’s and his top aides’ sexual harassment and retaliation against me after I complained about Governor Cuomo’s misconduct,” Bennett said in a statement. “They must all be held accountable for their actions.”
Bennett said in a New York Times article last year that Cuomo had asked her personal questions about her sex life, including what she thought of age differences in romantic relationships and whether she had ever had sex with an older man, while she was working as his executive assistant in 2020.
In the same conversation, the former governor reportedly told Bennett that he was open to having a relationship with a woman in her 20s, which she interpreted as Cuomo “propositioning her sexually.” Bennett also accused Cuomo of making sexualized comments about her appearance and assigning her humiliating tasks.
Bennett went public with her allegations soon after another Cuomo staffer, Lindsey Boylan, came forward. An investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released in August 2021 found that Cuomo had sexually harassed at least 11 women, leading the governor to resign.
In her lawsuit, Bennett also accused Cuomo, as well as DeRosa, DesRosiers and Mogul, of retaliation. The lawsuit claimed that Bennett was assigned to a “do nothing” position after reporting Cuomo’s harassment to DesRosiers and requesting a transfer.
DesRosiers, Mogul and DeRosa also failed to refer Bennett’s complaint to the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations for investigation, despite being required to report it, the lawsuit noted.
The lawsuit accused Cuomo of retaliating after Bennett went public with her sexual harassment allegations by “publicly casting doubt” on Bennett’s allegations and “impugning” her credibility.
Cuomo’s lawyer Rita Glavin reiterated on Wednesday that the former governor “didn’t harass anyone,” in a comment to The New York Times.
“The governor has always said he didn’t harass anyone,” Glavin said in a statement to The New York Times on Wednesday. “And with each day that goes by more and more information is uncovered showing how evidence favorable to the governor was suppressed and crucial facts ignored or omitted that undermined witness credibility.”
Despite resigning last year, Cuomo has remained defiant. The former governor filed an ethics complaint against James on Tuesday, claiming she “cynically manipulated” her investigation into his harassment claims.
“Former Governor Cuomo continues to demonstrate that he is more interested in smearing Ms. Bennett’s reputation, which is an ongoing form of retaliation, in an attempt to revive his floundering career rather than take accountability for his actions,” said Debra S. Katz, an attorney for Bennett.
This story was updated at 11:12 a.m.