Woman Alleges Gov. Andrew Cuomo Groped Her as He Now Faces 6 Accusations of Misconduct
The embattled politician says the public should wait for the results of an independent investigation
A sixth woman has alleged misconduct by embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accusing the state leader of groping her at the governor's mansion last year.
Cuomo, 63, denied her account in a statement and has continued to reject a growing chorus of New York lawmakers calling for him to resign. He says the public should wait for the results of an independent investigation with which he says he'll cooperate.
The Albany Times Union reported Wednesday night that the latest woman, who is an aide in Cuomo's office who has remained anonymous, alleges the governor had her come to his private residence on the second floor of the governor's mansion in Albany asking for help fixing his cellphone.
Cuomo then allegedly reached under her blouse and "began to fondle her," according to the newspaper, whose report is based on a third party with direct knowledge of the woman's allegations.
"I have never done anything like this," Cuomo told the Times Union in a statement, calling the details of the new allegation "gut-wrenching."
An attorney for the governor also said they had referred the claim to police after the anonymous woman declined to press charges, according to the Associated Press.
(Spokespeople for the governor did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.)
According to the Times Union, the Cuomo aide alleging the assault decided to speak out while watching the governor say in a March 3 press conference that he never touched anyone "inappropriately."
In those remarks, Cuomo apologized for what he insisted was inadvertent verbal behavior.
"I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," he said then, though he did not speak more specifically about his behavior.
"It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it," he said. "I feel awful about it and, frankly, I am embarrassed by it and that's not easy to say. But that's the truth."
"But this is what I want you to know, and I want you to know this from me directly: I never touched anyone inappropriately," he said.
Cuomo's latest accuser broke down and became emotional as she and other staffers watched his news conference last week, according to the Times Union source. The woman then shared her story with a female supervisor who approached her to ask why she became upset.
The anonymous woman is the sixth to make an allegation of inappropriate behavior against Cuomo in recent months.
Five of the women — Lindsey Boylan, Charlotte Bennett, Ana Liss, Karen Hinton and the latest accuser — say the governor's harassment happened while they were either aides in his office or working for him while he was secretary of housing and urban development in former President Bill Clinton's administration.
A sixth woman, Anna Ruch, said Cuomo allegedly made an unwanted advance at a friend's wedding in 2019.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating.
Boylan, 36, first came forward with her account in December. She worked in Cuomo's office from 2015 to 2018 and wrote in a Twitter thread that Cuomo had "sexually harassed me for years," adding that "many saw it, and watched." She said she knew other women had been harassed, as well.
At the time, Cuomo called Boylan's allegations "simply false."
Boylan, a candidate in the race for Manhattan borough president, then expanded on her allegations in an essay last month, adding that Cuomo had made advances on her, including an unwanted kiss.
"As we said before, Ms. Boylan's claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false," a Cuomo spokeswoman said in statement after Boylan published her essay.
Boylan's allegation was followed up by Bennett, another former aide in the governor's office who told The New York Times last month that Cuomo had sexually harassed her last June, questioning her about intimate details of her sex life and asking if she'd be open to a relationship with an older man.
Cuomo denied the account, saying he "never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate." Bennett, 25, said in an interview with CBS News earlier this month that Cuomo's questioning made her "uncomfortable" because he was her boss.
"I feel like people put the onus on the woman to shut that conversation down," she said. "And by answering, I was somehow engaging in that or enabling it, when in fact, I was just terrified."
Ruch, who said Cuomo kissed her without approval at a friend's wedding, became the third person to accuse the governor of sexual misbehavior in a Times interview this month.
Ruch, who is now 33, told the Times that she met Cuomo at a mutual friends' wedding reception in 2019 and that the governor put his hands on her face and allegedly asked if he could kiss her.
Ruch said she pulled away from the governor but felt "so confused and shocked and embarrassed" because of the unwanted interaction, which she said resulted in Cuomo kissing her cheek as she turned her head away from him.
Ruch's account included a photo published in the Times showing Cuomo touching her face.
Afterward, Cuomo apologized in a general way for actions that "have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation."
Later, speaking with reporters, he downplayed the impression of sexual aggression: "You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people — men, women. It is my usual and customary way of greeting."
Days after Ruch spoke up, a third former aide became the fourth woman to accuse Cuomo of misconduct. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Liss said that during her time working in Cuomo's office, the governor allegedly had asked her if she had a boyfriend, called her "sweetheart," wrapped his arm around her lower back for a photo and once kissed her hand when she rose from her desk.
Liss, 35, ultimately asked for a transfer to another office and told the Journal that the incidents led her to drink alcohol more often and prompted her to begin receiving mental health counseling.
The former aide told the paper that Cuomo's actions are "not appropriate, really, in any setting."
Earlier this month, a former press aide who worked with Cuomo while he was the Housing Secretary in the Clinton administration, alleged that the politician had harassed her in 2000 during a work event.
Speaking to The Washington Post, Hinton said Cuomo had invited her up to his hotel room and embraced her. Hinton told the Post she pulled away before Cuomo embraced her a second time, leading her to leave the room.
In a statement, a Cuomo spokesman told the paper that Hinton was "a known antagonist of the Governor's who is attempting to take advantage of this moment to score cheap points with made up allegations from 21 years ago."
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.