Executive Summary and Background
Charlotte Bennett is an activist who was a Title IX Peer Advocate at Hamilton College, where she founded SMART (Sexual Misconduct and Assault Reform Task-Force) at Hamilton College and participated in a coordinated false sexual assault accusation against a male student. She also claimed to be sexually assaulted by her ex-boyfriend while being in College. Bennett graduated with a degree in Women’s Studies (Major) and Psychology, Creative Writing (Minor) in 2017.
In January 2019, Bennett started to work as a special assistant to Governor Cuomo for Briefings and in May 2019 as his executive assistant. (Website, LinkedIn). In August 2019 she started to complain about being overworked and underpaid – a large part of her testimony is dedicated to this. In November 2019, she came to work with her hair in a messy bun, got upset when he asked her about it, and when she asked him if he didn’t like it, made a scene and left work. This is how she described the incident in her testimony, the moment she “knew” she was is being harassed:
She later texted a coworker about the incident:
He literally asked me why I wore my hair in a bun as he was leaving. Like I fucking dare you lol … I spent too long dealing w abusive assholes, the gov has no idea what kind of web he has stepped into lmao.
In January 2020, Charlotte Bennett told Governor Cuomo that she had been a victim of sexual assault in college (similar to one of his closest family members), and that she was also raped at 16. In May 2020, she told him she was preparing a speech for her college about sexual assault and her own experience.
On June 5, she claims she had another conversation with him, which she found unsettling (she later claimed in interviews that this was when the Governor was propositioning her). Yet, on the next day, she came to work in jeans shorts, which she considered were “very appropriate” and made her feel “comfortable enough”. (Screenshot from CB testimony p. 184). That same day (June 6, 2020), she had a long text conversation with an interesting friend, who calls Andrew Cuomo their “worst enemy”, wants “to make so many short incisions on his face that it will take 24 hours for him to die” (Bennett finds this hilarious), suggests to Bennett that she could destroy his entire life, and Bennett writes she is glad she read a book about grooming (CB testimony exhibits p. 80–89, selected parts).
On June 10, 2020, Bennett reported to Chief of Staff, Jill DesRosiers, that she had uncomfortable, inappropriate conversations with Cuomo. She said that she didn’t want to work in a role that required her to interact with him. The Executive Chamber moved her into a position as Health Policy Advisor the same week. This was a role in which she had shown much interest and she expressed satisfaction with this transfer. Bennett insisted she did not want an investigation even though she was told they thought it was a good idea to have one. In a later follow-up conversation, she said she still considered Cuomo as a friend. Bennett didn’t hold her new job for long, as she was not content there as well.
In December 2020, Bennett contacted Lindsey Boylan after her tweets about a “toxic work environment”. She messaged her that she too experienced a toxic work environment and that she didn’t have a job. She then offered to help Boylan with her campaign and Boylan responds that it would help her (Boylan) if Bennett spoke to journalists. (Screenshot#1, Screenshot#2, Screenshot#3), which Bennett did in February 2021.
Charlotte Bennett’s History of making allegations against men
According to Bennett’s statement during a Hamilton College Student Assembly Meeting (2016) she reported 7 events of abuse (including sexual assault) to the college by her ex-boyfriend. After investigating the incidents the college only found him responsible for only one – walking into her living room while she was with friends on a Saturday night. (See minutes, middle of p. 5).
A lawsuit filed by a former Hamilton College student (“John Doe”) in 2017 lists Bennett as a participant of coordinated false sexual assault claims.
In the court file, Bennett is referred to pseudonymously as “Sally Smith”. She is identifiable due to a reference to an article she published on October 20, 2016. There are also 2 places in the court records (p. 24 126) that refer to her as CB.
Here , here and here are screenshots from the court file with the most important information, particularly that she “had been through the complaint process before and understood that multiple reports against the same individual would likely result in that individual’s removal from campus”. Evidence proved she fabricated the allegations, and she withdrew her complaint immediately after the College removed John Doe from Campus and denied him graduation. The victim of the false allegations sued the college for the mishandling and failed investigation, and Hamilton College agreed to a settlement in 2018.
Another male student filed a similar lawsuit in 2020, regarding false allegations in 2018. This lawsuit doesn’t involve Bennett personally but points to the organization she founded. SMART was actively encouraging and coordinating allegations. The lawsuit also refers to Bennett’s article from 2016.
This information has significant impact on Bennett’s credibility in a case that mirrors these events. It was ignored by AG James and her investigators as well as ignored by main stream media.
On June 10, 2020, Bennett reported to the governor’s chief of staff, Jill DeRosiers, that she had uncomfortable conversations with Cuomo. She said she didn’t want to work in a role that required her to interact with him. Bennett was moved into a position as health policy advisor in the same week, a role in which she had shown interest around this time. She expressed satisfaction with this transfer (screenshot AG report p. 57, footnote 471).
After making these allegations, Bennett attended a party at the Executive Mansion on June 19, 2020. There she interacted again with Cuomo. She also sent an email to Cuomo’s close aides, Stephanie Benton and Melissa DeRosa, with positive feedback. Later she explained this incongruent behavior saying she wanted everything “look like it was fine”. Screenshot, AG report p. 63.
In a follow-up conversation on June 30, 2020, with DeRosiers and special counsel Judith Mogul, she said she did not want an investigation. She also stated that she still considered Cuomo a friend. Screenshot, AG report p. 62.
Soon after her transfer, Bennett resigned from her job. On her last day, according to her Instagram, she was still very positive about her experience working at the executive chamber and with Cuomo.
The report concludes Cuomo sexually harassed Bennett based on the following claims:
- Cuomo had detailed conversations with Bennett about her experiences with sexual assault that on certain occasions made her feel uncomfortable, as if he were “grooming” her.
- He made inappropriate and offensive comments of a sexual nature to Bennett, specifically: Talking about potential girlfriends for him, telling her (25) that he would be willing to date someone as young as 22 years old, asking her if she had been with older men, saying to her during the pandemic that he was lonely and wanted to be touched, telling her that he wanted to ride his motorcycle into the mountains with a woman, asking her if she was monogamous and what she thought about monogamy, joking about the size of his hands, telling her that she should get a tattoo on her butt where it could not be seen, and asking if she had any piercings other than in her ears.
- Bennett stated clearly that Cuomo never made sexual advances and never touched her. See screenshot from AG report, Exhibit 2.
- None of the comments, if they happened as she described, are of sexual nature. This is her subjective interpretation and unsubstantiated assumptions of his intentions. Evidence indicates that Bennett often does not differentiate between sexual and non-sexual as well as appropriate and inappropriate, both in her own behavior and in her interpretation of others’ behavior. Details below.
- Bennett and Cuomo both described his communication with her as “fatherly”. According to her statement their personal chats usually took place after work was finished. They spoke about her parents, sports, and motorcycles. She told him that he had similarities with her father and that she played soccer with his daughter. Relationships only came up once or twice in these conversations. Nothing indicates that he had any sexual interest in her but rather that he spoke to her as he would to his own daughters.
- Cuomo confirms that some of the conversations took place, but most not as described by Bennett. He denies other parts of the conversations as claimed by Bennett. No evidence or witnesses for the conversations exist. Evidence does not support Bennett’s representation and interpretation of the events. Instead, it paints a picture of their interactions that reveal a very different nature to these situations. Details below.
The Interactions in Detail
Note: Screenshots documenting Bennett’s side of the story are from the AG report. Handwritten notes are from Cuomo’s Special Counsel Judith Mogul and Chief of Staff Jill DesRosiers when they interviewed Bennett on June 30, 2020. (AG report Exhibits 2 and 3). Their notes are almost identical, we used screenshots of the more legible version. UPDATE 11/7/2021: We have added transcripts of these handwritten notes HERE.
On January 19, 2020, Cuomo was in a chatty and unfocused mood. He asked her about the staff, gossip, and what people were doing, as he often does. (Screenshot from AG report Exhibit 2). Bennett didn’t have anything to say, so he asked her to tell him something. She then told him that his signing of sexual assault legislation changed her life. She told him that she was a victim of sexual assault in college. Bennett also informed him that someone raped her when she was 16. She referred to it as “the story of my life” and “how I lost my virginity”. (screenshot).
Cuomo has a close family member who was also a victim of sexual assault. As a result, he knows how traumatizing and devastating this experience is. He shared details with Bennett in confidentiality and reciprocatively. In fact, Cuomo’s family member experienced a situation so “eerily identical” to what Bennett told him, so he wondered if she could know about this situation (Screenshot from Submission to AG, p. 49). This important detail (as Cuomo’s testimony in general) was omitted in the report.
Cuomo asked her about her experience and how it had affected her relationship with her parents/father and if it had brought them closer. (Screenshot AG report Exhibit 3).
She told him about her activism to fight sexual assault,. Cuomo advised her to not base her career solely on her past as she would end up always fighting against people in power without ever winning. He said she should instead take power (screenshot AG report Exhibit 2).
Bennett texted both parents that day about this conversation. Nothing in her text messages from that day indicates that she felt uncomfortable or interpreted the interaction as sexual. On the contrary, she expresses positive sentiments about the Governor. Neither she nor her parents express any concern that the conversation is inappropriate.
Had a really long convo w gov today. Talked about career etc . . . 2 hours. Told him about SMART . . . He responded so well. Really impressed. He had a lot to say and was very emotional and serious but also asked a lot of questions … He was impressed and said he was proud.
Had a long chat w gov today though. I kinda hate that it helps, but it does. An hour or two w him shouldn’t erase all the bullshit but it helps … Sat and watched cnn and espn while we chatted while he was editing stuff for this week I came there to pick up … It was a long and emotional convo. He also wanted to know if I like the work I am doing.
On May 15, 2020, Bennett went to the office still in her pajamas or as she later explained, according to her own description, leggings and a sweatshirt, with unbrushed teeth and her hair a ball of string taped to her forehead (screenshot from Exhibit 3 notes and Exhibit 45 text Bennett sent to a co-worker).
Cuomo was surprised to see her (the first time since begin of the pandemic). He asked her how long she had been in Albany (she was previously working in NYC). She told him that she had been living in a hotel in Albany for 60 days to work in the Capitol. Screenshots from Exhibit#3 and Exhibit#2.
Cuomo asked about her coworkers (“the group in the office”). He asked her who she was hanging out with, “listed folks” (specifically Noah and Jack). She claims he asked her if she was going to marry one of them. According to his testimony, he suggested “ways to invite herself into the group, including mentioning two junior staffers the Governor thought would be welcoming and inclusive of her” (position statement p. 13).
In this conversation Bennett first stated that Cuomo asked her who she was “sleeping with“, then corrected to with whom she was “hanging out with“, using both phrases as if they were interchangeable and had the same meaning. In her text message later that day she wrote “hitting on“, a third, completely different expression. The AG report does not mention the important issue of not remembering what he said or not understanding the difference between these phrases. The investigators used the expression used in the text message “hitting on”, either ignoring her original statement or not reading it, even though the original comment, “hanging with” was in the handwritten notes provided in the Appendix of the AG Report.
Bennett then told Cuomo she was preparing a speech for her college about sexual assault and her own experience. She points out that she thought it was appropriate after their previous conversation. She read it (or parts of it) to him. He provided feedback and made a “thoughtful correction” that she ended up using (screenshot AG report Exhibit 2). She spoke about showing up in spite of pain, and he suggested to use injustice and betrayal instead.
According to her statement, he then said “you were raped, you were raped and abused and assaulted” repeatedly, then said “here’s what your speech should be”. This made her feel uncomfortable.
Cuomo stated he did not say “you were raped” multiple times. He advised her to say that she was raped and assaulted at this school, and violated a second time by the school when they denied her victimization. His idea was using these words to power her speech. He further stated that she expressed her unease and he stopped making suggestions. (Position Statement, p. 11-12 and AG Report p. 52).
She later texted a coworker (Staffer 2) details of the conversation. The coworker responded that Cuomo “is probably bored and excited to see her since he had only seen the same 5 people in weeks and that he acted like a “dad””. Bennett then texts “And then I tried to turn it around on him and started to ask him personal questions” (Exhibit 45, Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3, Pt 4, Pt 5).
Turning it around on him, Bennett asked him how he was doing with the pandemic. She claims he said he was lonely and wanted to be touched. He also allegedly said that he wanted to ride off to the mountains on his motorcycle with a woman. In her text message, she writes (after turning it around on him) that they “talked about which celebrities he wanted” “for his dream scenario” to hop on the back of his bike w a lady and head for the mountains”. (Exhibit 45 Pt 5).
The text message she wrote to the coworker on the same day does not mention the comment about “feeling lonely and wants to be touched”. This is a detail she added later when interviewed in late June.
The AG report declares male Staffer#2, whom Bennett texted, as not credible (the same gender-biased way it declares Cuomo not credible) and ignores his interpretation of the text message exchange. It ignores important parts of the conversation including that Bennett turned “it around on him and started asking him personal questions”.
Cuomo states that he spoke with Bennett about the effects of the pandemic on mental health, the loneliness and isolation it causes, “about her own living situation during the pandemic […]. He wanted to share what he believed was a feeling felt by many others during this difficult time.” (Position Statement, p. 13). This is a topic he had been talking about in his briefings regularly as well. He denies talking with Bennett about riding off to the mountains on a motorcycle with a woman, however he believes he said that he wanted to drive off to the Adirondacks on his motorcycle to his staff one time . (AG report, p. 52).
On June 5, 2020, Bennett claims Cuomo asked her to find him a girlfriend in Albany. Cuomo testified that Bennett had looked at his social media accounts telling him “all these women want to date you”. This was a topic often discussed and joked about publicly by media, interviewers, comedians and many people around the country. He did, as he did many times with family, friends as well as with journalists, respond jokingly to find him a good candidate. Position statement p. 14 – Screenshot.
He then asked her if she had ever been with older men. Cuomo testified that he had heard rumors about her “involvement with older individuals” and that his question came from a place of concern and not out of personal interest. AG report, p. 56 – Screenshot.
He allegedly asked her if she thought age mattered, then stated it doesn’t matter to him as long as the woman was 22 or older, and that he asked her if she had been monogamous in past relationships. Cuomo denied all of this in his testimony. No witnesses or evidence. Ag report p. 55 – Screenshot.
Then, allegedly to change the topic, she told him she wanted to get a tattoo. According to her statement, Cuomo said she should get it on her butt. He then allegedly asked her if she had piercings anywhere other than in her ears. Cuomo testified that when she told him about getting a tattoo he did not tell her to get it on her butt, but to get it on a place where it wouldn’t be visible, referencing the NY State Police policy as an example. Position statement p. 13 – Screenshot. Cuomo’s suggestion to get the tattoo where it’s not visible to others followed the advice a therapist gave him on how to discuss potential tattoos with victims of sexual assault. (Screenshot from Submission to AG, p. 51). This important detail is missing from the report., as well as any statement regarding piercings.
Bennett also claimed that Cuomo asked what people were saying about the size of his hands and that she understood this as reference to the size of his genitals. Cuomo testified that he did not make comments about the size of his hands. Note: Cuomo’s hands have been joked about in public at least since March 2020 when his brother Chris Cuomo mentioned them on his show: “He [Pop] said Andrew has tremendous capability, he is blessed in many ways, but he has hands like bananas and he can’t play ball,” the anchor said, talking over his brother”. (WaPo, March 24, 2020). Screenshot#1, Screenshot#2.
Summary and Conclusion
Based on Bennett’s own description of her interactions with Cuomo, her misinterpreting and/or misrepresenting of situations and concepts, her past involvement in coordinated false sex allegations, and the inconsistencies in her representation of her relationship with Cuomo, we find Charlotte Bennett’s allegations not credible.
- Bennett has a history of fabricating false, coordinated sexual assault accusations.
- She misinterprets and/or misrepresents and sexualizes situations: equates “hanging out with” with “sleeping with”, associates hands with genitals, calls being raped “losing my virginity”. Bennett has also misrepresented other situations. In her short message to Boylan, she wrote that she was unemployed when she was working on a contract basis as a consultant. She pretended that she made too little money at the Executive Chamber when she started with a payrate of 55K and made 66K after her transfer. She pretended that she lived in constant fear in a horribly toxic work environment when originally she characterized her relationship with Cuomo for the first 1.5. years until May 2020 as friendly, trusted Cuomo with her most intimate secrets and called him a friend on June 30, 2020.
- Bennett has acted inappropriately and not using common sense when she came to work in leggings and a sweatshirt (or pajamas). She came to work in jeans shorts – generally not acceptable for the office. This was when Cuomo called her “Daisy Dukes” which she took to be sexual. (He testitifed that he stated this in order to be nice about the shorts being inappropriate.) Interestingly, she wore the shorts on June 6, the day after she allegedly thought Cuomo was propositioning her for sex and was scared.
- Bennett’s text messages and her social media contradict her story. They show that she was fond of Cuomo and not intimated at all. (Instagram post example). Bennett was the one who initiated both of the conversations about her sexual assault experience and shared other unsolicited personal information. Cuomo’s description of the situations make sense and provide context that clearly show the nature of these interactions were in no way sexual.