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In the interview, Bennett dismissed Cuomo’s apology, which he made at a press appearance Wednesday. She told O’Donnell that “it’s not an apology. It’s not an issue of my feelings. It’s an issue of his actions. The fact is that he was sexually harassing me and he has not apologized for sexually harassing me. And he can’t even use my name.”
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She also rejected Cuomo’s claim that his remarks may have been misinterpreted.
“No. I understood him loud and clear. It just didn’t go the way he planned,” she said.
O’Donnell has previously spearheaded two investigative projects on sexual assault in the U.S. military. A 2017 piece on sexual assault at the U.S. Air Force Academy won an Emmy.
In her first sit-down TV interview, Bennett described an encounter on June 6, when she was called into Cuomo’s office to take dictation, and the governor told her to turn off the tape recorder.
“And then he explains at that point that he is looking for a girlfriend. He’s lonely. He’s tired,” Bennett told O’Donnell.
“You’ve just finished dictation and the governor is telling you he’s lonely and looking for a relationship?” O’Donnell asked.
“Yes. He asked if I had trouble enjoying being with someone because of my trauma,” Bennett said.
O’Donnell said that Cuomo’s remark “seems highly inappropriate,” and Bennett answered, “Yeah. The governor asked me if I was sensitive to intimacy.”
She said that in an earlier conversation with Cuomo on May 15, he started asking her about her love life, and he repeated over and over again how she was a sexual assault survivor.
“So he goes, ‘You were raped. You were raped. You were raped and abused and assaulted,” Bennett said in the interview.
Bennett said that in their June 6 conversation, Cuomo asked her “if age [their] difference mattered. He also explained that he was fine with anyone over 22.” She is 25.
CBS News also reviewed text messages that Bennett sent to a friend in which she described the encounter.
Asked what she was thinking as the governor was asking the questions, Bennett said, “I thought he’s trying to sleep with me. The governor’s trying to sleep with me. And I’m deeply uncomfortable and I have to get out of this room as soon as possible.”
Cuomo gave a statement to the New York Times about the allegations in which he said that he “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”
The second part of the interview will air on Friday on CBS This Morning.
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