Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused of harassment, unwanted touching by several women

NY Governor Cuomo Presser

In December, a woman who used to work for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo came out and told her story. Lindsey Boylan was an aide to the governor, and she described the years of open sexual harassment by Cuomo, in plain view of other aides and state officials. Boylan said in December that she knew she was not the only one. She was right. In recent weeks, other women have come forward to describe Cuomo sexually harassing them and/or making them feel deeply uncomfortable. It should be noted that much like Donald Trump, Andrew Cuomo has been known to wield his physical size around other people – he’s a tall, physically imposing man who towers over most women. And like Trump, Cuomo likes to put his hands on unconsenting women.

Anna Ruch had never met Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo before encountering him at a crowded New York City wedding reception in September 2019. Her first impression was positive enough. The governor was working the room after toasting the newlyweds, and when he came upon Ms. Ruch, now 33, she thanked him for his kind words about her friends. But what happened next instantly unsettled her: Mr. Cuomo put his hand on Ms. Ruch’s bare lower back, she said in an interview on Monday.

When she removed his hand with her own, Ms. Ruch recalled, the governor remarked that she seemed “aggressive” and placed his hands on her cheeks. He asked if he could kiss her, loudly enough for a friend standing nearby to hear. Ms. Ruch was bewildered by the entreaty, she said, and pulled away as the governor drew closer.

“I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” said Ms. Ruch, whose recollection was corroborated by the friend, contemporaneous text messages and photographs from the event. “I turned my head away and didn’t have words in that moment.”

Ms. Ruch’s account comes after two former aides accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment in the workplace, plunging his third term into turmoil as the governor’s defenders and Mr. Cuomo himself strain to explain his behavior.

A spokesman for the governor did not directly address Ms. Ruch’s account, referring to a general statement that Mr. Cuomo released on Sunday night in which he acknowledged that some things he had said “have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”

“To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that,” the statement said.

Ms. Ruch’s example is distinct from those of the former aides: A former member of the Obama administration and the 2020 Biden campaign, Ms. Ruch has never been employed by the governor or the state. But her experience reinforces the escalating concerns and accusations about Mr. Cuomo’s personal conduct — a pattern of words and actions that have, at minimum, made three women who are decades his junior feel deeply uncomfortable, in their collective telling.

[From The NY Times]

One of Cuomo’s other victims/accusers, Charlotte Bennett, told the Times that Cuomo’s vague apology was inadequate: “These are not the actions of someone who simply feels misunderstood. They are the actions of an individual who wields his power to avoid justice.” There is a pending investigation by the state attorney general (Letitia James), and calls for an outside investigator, which is what I think should happen. New York state’s internal politics are infamously terrible, and there should be an independent investigation into Cuomo’s history with women, specifically young female aides. As I said in previous coverage, Cuomo, 63, is definitely from a generation of male politicians who think nothing of casual, everyday sexism and sexual harassment. Just because Cuomo is not alone in being predatory towards young women, doesn’t mean we should shrug it off. We should also NOT shrug it off just because Cuomo is a Democrat.

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16 Responses to “Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused of harassment, unwanted touching by several women”

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    So so sick of this predatory and destructive behavior. I completely agree we can’t excuse this just because he’s a Democrat. Republicans would but we can’t. He should resign.

    • Joan Rivers says:

      These claims are very mild compared to Trump’s 2 dozen women who say he sexually assaulted them. It’s, “He touched my back” in public or “He asked if he could kiss me, while being photographed.”

      Don’t overreact.

  2. Lola says:

    Zero tolerance for this. Investigate him and if it’s true, get rid of him. Their time is over. There are SO many competent people out there, it’s no longer the time for these pieces of shit to hang on to these positions. Too many extremely competent people – BIPOC, women, LGBT, have been held back so all the power could be concentrated with these perverted assholes and I’m done with it.

    • Joan Rivers says:

      The first one, Boylan, was forced to resign because female staff said SHE bullied THEM. Read the HuffPo article in Dec. that reported it.

  3. L84Tea says:

    Nope, he is getting NO pass from me. He’s disgusting.

    • Joan Rivers says:

      What EXACTLY are you citing? Do you even know? WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE?
      You’re reacting. But this is so vague. “Can I kiss you?” isn’t assault.

      Scrutinize what you’re reading.

  4. Shelley says:

    FELLAS! Get your $h!t together already! Why you gotta mess everything up with such foolishness!?!

  5. Dini says:

    I think it’s always telling when someone apologizes with the “I’m sorry IF you took offence.”

  6. Bunny says:

    He needs to go. He’s disgusting. No excuses.

  7. TQ says:

    Yeah, this is terrible and totally unacceptable. But so common. I worked in NYS politics in the late 2000s, and Cuomo’s bullying behavior was very well known. I never heard about his sexual harassment, but that’s unsurprising given he throws around his power and bullies and intimidates people. Did hear about his affairs though, which makes one wonder about consent and coercion.

    The sexual harassment was certainly not limited to him. I even wore a ring on my ring finger to try to fend off the creeps (obviously that didn’t stop them all, but it stopped a few). Inappropriate passes and touches were routine, particularly at political events in the evening where the booze really flows. That icky hand on the small of the back happened to me frequently. And this was all while I was a high level lawyer, which didn’t insulate me. It was a very toxic environment and I’m glad I got the hell out.

    Thus totally agree with your assessment Kaiser that “New York state’s internal politics are infamously terrible”. It really is.

  8. Lawcatb says:

    Least shocking accusations I’ve heard in some time.

  9. Amando says:

    How quickly someone goes from “hero” to zero in just a year. I believe these women.

  10. KNy says:

    I’m from NYC and while I did appreciate that he offered some semblance of leadership in Spring 2020 when the world was freaking falling apart and we had donald goddamn trump at the helm, I was definitely uncomfortable with him as his whole enterprise is extremely, extremely corrupt (I voted for Cynthia Nixon in the primary even though the idea of celebrity politicians is gross to me) and I knew a handful of people who are family members or friends of people who worked for him and the gist is that he is basically an asshole. I didn’t hear about sexual abuse or harassment, but I am in no way surprised. He is not a good guy. He said and did the right things (when the pandemic was too big to ignore), but he is not a good guy.

  11. Gab says:

    I pretty much ALWAYS believe stories like this coming from either political party, as well as those about ANY prominent man in power or celebrity because I have experienced so much of this behavior in my own life. My abusers were not famous and I still cannot imagine having the strength/bravery to come forward. I have a really hard time believing that any woman would make a story like this up, but an easy time believing that a man would deny or downplay it.

    • Size Does Matter says:

      I think many of these men do this kind of thing so often that they can’t remember individual incidents. And they wouldn’t think of it as wrong because they truly believe all women want them.

  12. so says:

    I believe Anna Ruch and Lindsey Boylan. This is disturbing.
    I also believe Christine Blasey Ford, E. Jean Carroll, and Tara Reade.
    Unfortunaltely, all their 4 agressors are still in positions of power and will likely never face consequences.