“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Ms. Bennett said. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
After reporting her interactions with Mr. Cuomo in early June to his chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, Ms. Bennett was quickly transferred to another job, in an office on the opposite side of the Capitol from the governor. No disciplinary action was taken against Mr. Cuomo, who has ruled New York for more than a decade.
In a statement released on Sunday evening, Mr. Cuomo, 63, said that he had not made advances or “inappropriately touched” anybody. The governor, however, did address his own behavior, conceding that he had often teased and bantered with his underlings, “being playful” while working in what he called “a very serious business.”
“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended,” he said. “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
The governor’s apology was batted back by other New York Democrats, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said on Monday that the governor’s statement was “not an apology,” but rather an attempt to let “himself off the hook.”
“He seemed to be saying, ‘Aw, I was just kidding around,’” Mr. de Blasio said. “Sexual harassment isn’t funny. It’s serious and it has do be taken seriously.”
The mayor added that for women involved, the alleged incidents “sounded pretty terrifying.”
“If someone purposely tried to use their power to force a woman to have sex with them? Of course, that’s someone who should no longer be in public service,” Mr. de Blasio said.