On Wednesday, Cuomo’s former executive assistant Charlotte Bennett sued Cuomo, as well as three of his top aides, including Melissa DeRosa, in federal court. Bennett’s lawsuit, which can be read in full here, accuses Cuomo of “sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation in violation of federal, state and city laws,” and is seeking damages.
While the details of Cuomo’s alleged harassment of Bennett have been part of the public record for a while now, and were corroborated by AG James’s investigation, it’s worth revisiting some of her allegations. Via her lawsuit:
Throughout her employment as Defendant Cuomo’s Executive Assistant, the then-Governor subjected her to sexualized comments about her appearance, assigned her humiliating and demeaning tasks, and beginning in early June 2020, subjected her to invasive and unwanted questions about her personal life, romantic and sexual relationships, and history as a survivor of sexual assault. He told her he was “lonely,” wanted a girlfriend who lived in Albany, and was willing to date someone over the age of 21 years old. At the time of that conversation, and as Defendant Cuomo knew, Ms. Bennett was 25 years old and living with other Executive Chamber staffers in an Albany hotel. Defendant Cuomo’s comments and behavior were unwelcome and Ms. Bennett reasonably perceived them to constitute a sexual advance.
Cuomo, for his part, has repeatedly defended himself, in large part by casting doubt on the credibility of his many accusers. In Bennett’s case, that has meant odiously smearing her account of being sexually assaulted.
Take the ethics complaint he filed against AG James, which included several pages devoted to Bennett’s “history of making sexual misconduct allegations,” and wrote in depth about a lawsuit filed by a “John Doe” that claimed Bennett and other students had, in the words of Cuomo’s letter, “made false sexual misconduct allegations against him” while attending Hamilton College. As the Times noted, Bennett’s attorneys have said in the past that “the claims in that case, which never got tested in court, amounted to unproven allegations that were irrelevant to her accusations against Mr. Cuomo.”
But according to Cuomo, John Doe’s lawsuit “should have given investigators very significant pause regarding the credibility of Ms. Bennett's allegations and the lens through which she viewed her interactions with me.”
Cuomo’s letter also notes that Bennett “publicly spoke about another incident of sexual abuse that she reportedly endured during her sophomore year in college.” The former governor says that the AG should have acknowledged Bennett's status as a survivor of sexual abuse "andconsidered the impact that may have had on Ms. Bennett's perspective in how she perceived and remembered her interactions with me…and the Report made no effort to do so, resulting in an incomplete and one-sided narrative."
Do I even need to unpack how gross this is? Can Andrew Cuomo just go away, please?
After Mayor Adams appeared to state that the City’s right-to-shelter law “must be reassessed” after his administration once again broke the law, his surely aggrieved press secretary Fabien Levy was forced to backtrack. “We’re not trying to get rid of right to shelter. Right to shelter is law,” Levy told the Times. While Adams stressed that the shelter system was “nearing its breaking point,” City Limits’s David Brand pointed out that the current number of people living in NYC shelter’s system is lower than its peak from several years ago.
The Civilian Complaint Review Board now has a little bit more power. Via Gothamist: “The updated rules broaden the types of alleged policy violations that the agency can investigate. The agency will now be able to look for signs of discrimination if it suspects that officers are treating people differently because of their race, gender or other identity traits. In extreme cases, it will be allowed to look into officers’ records, to see if their actions are part of a larger pattern of bias. Off-duty actions will also prompt reviews of officers’ histories in some instances.”
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Yeshiva University must officially recognize an LGBT student group. The private Orthodox Jewish university had said that the group would be “inconsistent with its religious values,” though its website is happy to note that its NYC campuses are “situated in one of the most vibrant cities of the world with unparalleled diversity.”