An unnamed aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo has detailed an alleged sexual assault at the Executive Mansion in November. It was not just what he did, she told the Times Union this week, but how he did it. “You can never tell anyone about anything,” she says the governor told her a month after the incident. “I know how intimidating he can be. He wanted to get a message across to me.”
While her allegations carry the most serious potential legal implications for the governor, who has denied he assaulted her, she is not the only person saying that sexual misconduct of one form or another took place.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins – and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, sort of – have asked that Cuomo step down. But other Democrats in the state Legislature, such as Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, urged that an investigation overseen by state Attorney General Letitia James be allowed to be completed before such steps are taken.
The Assembly launched an impeachment investigation in early March, though several accusers have refused to cooperate, citing questions about the validity of the probe.
Cuomo has apologized for causing his accusers discomfort – which has no bearing on the legal standards of sexual harassment – but continues to say he will not be resigning from office, despite bipartisan calls for him to do so.
With so many accusers, it can be hard to keep track of each one, so here are the details on all of the women who have alleged Cuomo sexually harassed them thus far, in order from most recent to least recent.
Unnamed female aide
The most serious accusation against the governor has come from an unidentified gubernatorial aide who said he allegedly groped her at the Executive Mansion in November. She gave a detailed account to the Times Union of being beckoned to the residence to ostensibly help Cuomo with a cellphone problem. When she entered his office on the second floor, he reportedly slammed the door, slipped his hand under her shirt and touched her breast over her bra. She has said the alleged groping followed roughly two years of unwanted attention from the governor. One of Cuomo’s other accusers said it sounded a lot like her own experience.
The governor said he has “never done anything like this” after the Times Union first reported her accusations a month ago. “All allegations that we learn of directly or indirectly are going promptly to the investigators appointed by the attorney general,” Beth Garvey, acting counsel to Cuomo, said in a March statement.
During a tour of flood-torn homes in Rochester, Gov. Andrew Cuomo allegedly grabbed Vill's face and kissed her on both cheeks inside her home in the Rochester suburb of Greece, outside her home, and in front of family. Vill stated the accusations in a press conference with her lawyer, Gloria Allred, saying the encounter happened in 2017. The governor excused his actions at the time as being an "Italian greeting.” Vill said that before leaving her home, Cuomo said she was "beautiful." Following the governor's trip, Vill stated that neighbors began to call her "the governor's new girlfriend." Cuomo’s attorney said the governor greeted many people with similar gestures.
Current aide McGrath accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of continued sexual harassment during interactions at work and in the Governor’s mansion. As reported by The New York Times, Cuomo allegedly inquired if McGrath and another colleague were going to "mingle" with the single men on a trip to Florida and proceeded to call them "mingle mamas.” In one episode, McGrath described being in Cuomo’s office to complete a dictation session when McGrath said that Cuomo was looking down her shirt. As reported in the Times, “I put my head down waiting for him to start speaking, and he didn’t start speaking,” she said. “So I looked up to see what was going on. And he was blatantly looking down my shirt.” Additionally, Cuomo reportedly grabbed McGrath's and another colleague's waist for photos and kissed McGrath on the forehead. McGrath's lawyer, Mariann Wang, told the Times "this would be unacceptable behavior from any boss, much less the governor.”
Cuomo's lawyer, Rita Galvin, responded to the accusation stating that “the governor has greeted men and women with hugs and a kiss on the cheek, forehead, or hand. Yes, he has posed for photographs with his arm around them. Yes, he uses Italian phrases like ‘ciao bella.’”
Bakeman, who was a reporter for Politico New York and the USA Today Network, alleged in an op-ed for New York magazine that Cuomo had repeatedly touched her unnecessarily, a habit she said was about showing power. The first incident was allegedly in 2012, when he kept her “pinned next to him” with an arm around her shoulder, at an event where she was the only woman present in the room. The second incident described was in 2014, where Cuomo allegedly similarly pulled her into him and kept his arm around her, posing for pictures and saying “I’m sorry. Am I making you uncomfortable? I thought we were going steady.”
Bakeman also described other events, not physical in nature, where she felt “Cuomo never let me forget I was a woman,” including him making fun of her purple phone case instead of answering a question and implying he took a question at another event because she had spoken over a man.
She noted that she never thought he wanted to have sex with her: “He wanted me to know that I was powerless.”
In a tweeted statement, the then-Associated Press reporter alleged Cuomo “did appear to take an interest” in her, first staring at her and beelining towards her at an event, and then flirting with her over the phone. Fellow reporters allegedly also noticed, one loudly commenting that Cuomo “seemed very into” Bauman.
Bauman also clarified that Cuomo never touched her or did anything she felt could be reported to her management, but “did make (her) uncomfortable.” Speaking on the culture in Albany more generally, she said she wore a fake wedding ring to stave off unwanted attention from “much older men” there.
Hinton, a staffer for Cuomo while he was head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, alleged in an interview with the Washington Post that while she was with Cuomo on a work trip in 2000, he held her “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate” in a hotel room.
The governor quickly fired back at Hinton, refuting her allegations and suggesting that her motivations were politically motivated as a “longtime political adversary.” (Hinton worked for Cuomo’s rival, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and has criticized the governor before.)
“Truth is the ‘longtime adversary’ that Cuomo fears the most,” Hinton replied in a statement.
A former policy and operations aide to Cuomo, who worked for him between 2013 and 2015, alleged that within her first year of working for the governor he asked if she had a boyfriend, called her sweetheart, touched her lower back in a way that made her uncomfortable and kissed her hands while she rose from her desk.
While Liss told The Wall Street Journal that she initially found these instances to be fairly harmless, she soon felt she was treated as “just a skirt” rather than an intelligent professional. She, in addition to other former and current members of the administration, also told the Journal that the governor regularly inquired about their dating lives and made comments about their appearances.
Last Wednesday, the governor apologized for ever unintentionally making anyone uncomfortable with his comments and actions. “The people of this state elected the governor to represent them four times during the last 14 years, and they know he works day and night for them. There is no secret these are tough jobs, and the work is demanding, but we have a top-tier team with many employees who have been here for years, and many others who have left and returned,” Cuomo’s senior spokesperson, Rich Azzopardi said in a statement, when asked about the criticisms leveraged against the governor.
In September, 2019, Ruch and Cuomo attended a wedding, where she said he placed his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her after she complimented a toast he made for the just-married couple. A photo taken by a friend of Ruch’s captured the incident. “I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” Ruch told The New York Times. “I turned my head away and didn’t have words in that moment.”
The governor responded to Ruch’s allegation last Sunday, in a statement where he said his behavior has “been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation” and apologized. “To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that,” he said.
While Ruch had only met Cuomo on that one occasion and never worked for him, her experience was reminiscent of the behavior described by some of his former employees.
Gareth Rhodes, a longtime Cuomo aide who was the groom at the wedding, stepped down from the state’s COVID-19 task force, following Ruch’s allegations, though he denied that there was any connection between the allegations and his reassignment to a different role in the state government.
On Feb. 27, the Times revealed allegations against the governor made by Bennett, an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until she departed in November, were revealed. Bennett told the Times that while working with Cuomo he asked her about her sex life and made it apparent that he was interested in having a sexual relationship with her.
In early June, Bennett said that Cuomo aggressively asked her about her personal life and whether or not she would be interested in being with older men and said that he was open to being with women in their 20s – Bennett is 25 and Cuomo is 63. “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett said. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
Cuomo responded to Bennett’s allegations saying, “The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.”
“Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion and express issues and concerns that she has,” Cuomo said, following her initial allegation. “But it’s just not true.”
On Feb. 24, Boylan published an essay on Medium, where she claimed the governor asked her to play strip poker, forcibly kissed her and inappropriately commented on her looks, while she worked for him as a top adviser, between 2015 and 2018.
“Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” Caitlin Girouard, a press secretary for the governor, said in a statement regarding the claims made in Boylan’s essay.
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