Claims against Cuomo: A look at the women’s allegations
NEW YORK (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing allegations that he sexually harassed or behaved inappropriately toward women who worked with him or met him elsewhere — now including one he encountered while on official business. The woman, Sherry Vill, said at a press conference Monday that Cuomo forcibly kissed her cheeks and made her uncomfortable while examining flood damage at her home.
Other accusations range from groping under a woman’s shirt and planting unwanted kisses to asking unwelcome personal questions about sex and dating.
The Democratic governor has said that he “never touched anyone inappropriately” and “never made any inappropriate advances,” and that no one ever told him at the time that he was making them uncomfortable. He has called some allegations false.
Cuomo has also suggested that he was simply being an old-school politician in greeting people with hugs and kisses but that “sensitivities” have changed.
Here’s a look at some of the workplace allegations, in the order they became public:
LINDSEY BOYLAN, 36, a former state economic development adviser, says the governor kissed her on the lips as she was leaving a one-on-one meeting in his office and suggested playing strip poker on a state plane. Cuomo says both stories are false. Among her other allegations: Cuomo summoned her alone to his office after a holiday party and made what she took to be a reference to former President Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The governor also sent Valentine’s Day roses to Boylan and other female staffers, she said.
CHARLOTTE BENNETT, 25, a former Cuomo aide, said the governor asked her about her love life — including whether she ever had sex with older men — and talked about his own, saying that age differences didn’t matter in relationships and he was open to dating women over 22. During a meeting alone in his office, the governor said he was lonely and talked about wanting to hug someone, Bennett said. She said she swiftly complained to Cuomo’s chief of staff and was transferred to another job. She said she spoke to a lawyer for the governor, but didn’t insist on further action because she liked her new post and wanted to move on.
ANNA RUCH, a guest at a wedding where Cuomo officiated, told The New York Times that right after meeting her, he put his hand on her lower back, called her “aggressive” for removing it, placed his hands on her cheeks and asked to kiss her. She said she turned away.
ANA LISS, 35, a former aide, said Cuomo asked her whether she had a boyfriend, once kissed her hand at her desk and called her by patronizing names, including “blondie,” “sweetheart” and “honey.” At a reception, the governor hugged her then put his arm around her lower back and waist as they posed for photo, Liss said. She said she eventually asked for a job transfer. In an interview, Liss said she was “not claiming sexual harassment per se,” but felt the administration “wasn’t a safe space for young women to work.”
KAREN HINTON, who worked for Cuomo when he was Clinton’s federal housing secretary in the 1990s, said Cuomo gave her an overly long and intimate hug after calling her to his hotel room for a conversation that turned to personal topics on a trip where she was serving as a consultant to the housing agency. Cuomo said Hinton’s account was “not true.”
A MEMBER OF CUOMO’S STAFF alleged that he closed a door, reached under her blouse and fondled her after summoning her to the governor’s mansion in Albany for help with his cellphone, according to the Times Union of Albany. The newspaper didn’t name the woman, who said that she told Cuomo to stop groping her and that he had touched and flirted with her previously.
The Times Union’s reporting is based on an unidentified source with direct knowledge of the woman’s accusation.
The woman recently told a supervisor, and at least one of her bosses reported the allegation to a lawyer for the governor this month, according to the newspaper.
Cuomo called the report “gut-wrenching” in a statement and said: “I have never done anything like this.”
ALYSSA McGRATH, 33, a current administrative assistant in Cuomo’s office, told The New York Times that he looked down her shirt, quizzed her about her marital status, and told her she was beautiful, using an Italian phrase she had to ask her parents to interpret.
McGrath didn’t say the governor made sexual contact with her but thought his behavior was sexual harassment. She recalled Cuomo kissing her on the forehead and gripping her firmly around the sides while posing for a photo at a 2019 office Christmas party.
Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin responded by reiterating his denials of inappropriate advances and touching. She told the Times he has greeted both men and women with hugs and kisses on the cheek, has put his arm around people for photos and uses such Italian phrases as “ciao bella” (“hi, beautiful” or “’bye, beautiful”), though she said he didn’t say that to McGrath.
“None of this is remarkable, although it may be old-fashioned,” Glavin added.
SHERRY VILL, 55, said she felt manhandled when Cuomo grabbed her face and kissed her cheeks while visiting her Rochester-area home in spring 2017. He was there to inspect the aftermath of flooding near Lake Ontario.
The governor planted kisses on both her cheeks in front of her family members, told her she was beautiful, and then held her hand, grabbed her face and kissed her on the cheek again outside her home, she said.
Vill said she found Cuomo’s behavior flirtatious and inappropriate, his body language made her uncomfortable and the episode embarrassed her in front of her family and neighbors.
Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin said the governor “has frequently sought to comfort New Yorkers with hugs and kisses” during crises and has greeted both men and women that way for decades.
“Nothing described at today’s press conference was unique in that regard,” Glavin said in a statement.