The female staff member who alleges New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo groped her inside the governor’s mansion in November told the Albany Times Union that he had groomed her over time and later urged her to stay silent about their interactions.
Speaking anonymously, the aide told the newspaper in a lengthy and detailed interview that the exchange came after Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo administration staffer, alleged in December that the governor had sexually harassed her “for years.”
"I was a liability, and he knew that," the woman, who still works for Cuomo, told the paper. "He was definitely trying to let me know, ‘It would be in your best interest [to keep quiet].’ … I know his look and I know how intimidating he can be. He wanted to get a message across to me."
The woman said that it was the governor who broached the issue while she was working on another office task for him.
"Near the end of it, he looked up at me and he said, ‘You know, by the way, you know people talk in the office and you can never tell anyone about anything we talk about or, you know, anything, right?’" she told the Times Union. "I said, ‘I understand.’ He said, ‘Well, you know, I could get in big trouble, you know that.’ I said, ‘I understand, governor.’ And he said, ‘OK.’"
The governor‘s office did not respond to a request for comment. Rita Glavin, an outside attorney representing Cuomo, said the governor “has repeatedly made clear that he never made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched anyone.“
“The Attorney General’s review of this claim and others, including evolving details and new public statements by complainants or their surrogates, must be thorough, fair and provide the truth,“ Glavin said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
The account in the newspaper’s story details the most serious allegations of sexual misconduct against Cuomo, who has now been accused of harassment by numerous staff members and several other women with who he has interacted. The aide described what the Times Union said was “a pattern of inappropriate behavior that began with tight hugs and kisses on the cheek“ and led to the accusations of groping.
Cuomo has said he likes to “tease people” in the office and apologized if his interactions had been “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.” But he has denied that he ever "inappropriately touched" anyone, and specifically denied the allegation from the anonymous aide.
The woman told the Times Union that she was instructed by a colleague to go over to the governor’s mansion in late November to assist him with an issue related to his cell phone, and that Cuomo had specifically asked for her to come.
Once there, the woman told the Times Union, he quickly began grabbing her inappropriately as she tried to get him to stop. She said that she was “mortified” that someone might see the incident and “terrified of that happening because that’s not who I am and that’s not what I’m here for.”
She said he continued to press on despite her attempts to get him to stop and, after slamming the door shut, he reached inside of her shirt and touched her breast.
The alleged incident, her account of which POLITICO has not independently confirmed, is one of several allegations made against Cuomo. Included among the women who have come forward in recent weeks are a number of current and former staffers in his office.
According to the Times Union, which was the first to report about the alleged November groping early last month, it is the first time the woman has spoken publicly about the encounter and she chose to remain anonymous to shield her privacy. At the time Cuomo called the allegations “gut-wrenching” and denied them — as he has with the other accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct lodged against him.
The allegation was subsequently referred to local law enforcement and is among the issues being looked into by an inquiry led by outside investigators for state Attorney General Tish James and a separate probe being conducted by the state Assembly Judiciary committee, the later of which could be used to launch impeachment proceedings against Cuomo.
The Times Union reported that she was interviewed by investigators with the state attorney general’s office in New York City on March 12.