Katz, Marshall, and Banks LLP issued a press release Wednesday announcing that attorney Debra Katz will represent Charlotte Bennett in her allegations against the governor.
Katz represented Christine Blasey Ford in September 2018 when Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school. The Senate Judiciary Committee ultimately found “no evidence” to corroborate Ford’s claims against him.
Bennett told the New York Times that Cuomo asked her about her sex life, asked her whether she practiced monogamy, whether she was interested in older men, and discussed her past sexual assault with her in an uncomfortable manner.
Bennett also said that Cuomo suggested he was open to dating women her age and that she believes he was grooming her.
“Ms. Bennett will cooperate fully with the Attorney General’s investigation,” Katz said in a Monday statement.
“We are confident that no disinterested investigator who reviews this evidence would adopt the Governor’s self-serving characterization of his behavior as mentorship or, at worst, unwanted flirtation,” Katz said. “He was not acting as a mentor and his remarks were not misunderstood by Ms. Bennett. He was abusing his power over her for sex. This is textbook sexual harassment.”
Exclusive video footage obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation in September 2019 showed Katz saying that putting “an asterisk next to” Kavanaugh’s name before “he takes a scalpel” to Roe v. Wade was “part of what motivated” Ford to speak out.
“In the aftermath of these hearings, I believe that Christine’s testimony brought about more good than the harm misogynist Republicans caused by allowing Kavanaugh on the court,” Katz said in April 2019, speaking at the University of Baltimore’s 11th Feminist Legal Theory Conference, “Applied Feminism and #MeToo.”
“He will always have an asterisk next to his name,” Katz continued. “When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is, we know his character, and we know what motivates him, and that is important; it is important that we know, and that is part of what motivated Christine.”
The video was first reported by Ryan Lovelace in his book, “Search and Destroy: Inside the Campaign Against Brett Kavanaugh.” Lovelace told the DCNF at the time that it calls into question everything that Ford and Katz have previously said — and that if this information was known during the September hearings, there might have been different questions and different results.
The Women’s Bar Association awarded Katz with the “Dare to Make an Impact” award and the Victim Rights Law Center awarded her with the “2019 Leadership Award” for her work on the Kavanaugh case. She’s been recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as one of “Washington’s 150 Most Powerful Women,” and is currently representing ousted Health and Human Services official Dr. Rick Bright.
President Joe Biden’s accuser Tara Reade told the DCNF in April 2020 that she reached out to Katz and her fellow attorney Lisa Banks, who also represented Blasey Ford, for help with her allegations against Biden. The attorneys did not answer her or offer her help, Reade said.
Katz and Banks did not answer repeated requests for comment from the DCNF at the time as to why they represented ousted vaccine expert Bright and not Reade.
In a Sunday evening statement, Cuomo apologized if his actions were “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”
“I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm,” he said. “I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends.”
“I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way,” Cuomo said. “I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.”
Katz suggested that Cuomo’s statement demonstrates that “the problem is a systemic one.”
“The Attorney General must investigate whether other women were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment,” Katz said. “It is also critical for the Attorney General to determine if anyone in the Cuomo Administration enabled his behavior.”
Katz did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF for this story.
By Mary Margaret Olohan
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