Cuomo’s attorneys have repeatedly maintained that their client never sexually harassed any women, despite the state attorney general saying otherwise.
One of the first women to accuse Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment has filed a federal lawsuit against the former New York governor.
According to CNN, Christine Bennett, a “one-time staffer” for Cuomo, is suing the retired politician for sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
Bennett, says CNN, has been a vocal critic of Cuomo, publicly speaking about her experience in the governor’s office. Employed as an in-office staffer between 2019 and 2020, Bennett claims that Cuomo made regular remarks about her appearance, gave her “humiliating and demeaning tasks,” and asked her unwanted and invasive questions about her romantic and sexual relationships.
Bennett’s accusations were a centerpiece of a 2021 report filed by current New York Attorney General Letitia James.
James, adds CNN, had filed the report at Cuomo’s behest.
However, the attorney general found that, not only were Bennett’s claims credible, but that Cuomo had sexually harassed at least 11 other women.
The prosecutor’s report forced Cuomo into an early retirement; he was replaced as governor by then-lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul, who is currently running for her first full term in the position.
Since his resignation, Cuomo has repeatedly denied the allegations against him and accused James of mounting a politically biased investigation. He has since filed an ethics complaint against her.
“Ms. Bennett never suggested to the Special Counsel in her conversations that I had ever made sexual advances toward her,” Cuomo said in his ethics complaint. “In fact, when asked if I ever made a sexual advance, Ms. Bennett replied, ‘No.'”
Bennett, meanwhile, has escalated her complaints against Cuomo to federal court. In her lawsuit, the former staffer alleges that she was moved into an “inferior position” after reporting Cuomo’s misconduct.
Executive Chambers staffers, writes CNN, did not refer to Bennett’s sexual harassment complaint to the appropriate department for further investigation.
“Ultimately, Ms. Bennett was forced into an involuntary resignation from her employment with the State because her work environment had become intolerable,” Bennett’s lawsuit states.
Nevertheless, attorneys for Cuomo suggest that growing evidence supports the governor’s version of events.
“The Governor has always said he didn’t harass anyone 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,” Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin said in a statement to CNN.
Bennett, meanwhile, says that Cuomo has waged a non-stop campaign against her reputation, “[using] his social media platform to portray her as a liar.”
“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. They must all be held accountable for their actions,” Bennett said in a statement.
Bennett is seeking compensatory damages for emotional distress, economic loss, loss of future professional opportunities, and loss of future income.