Two additional women accused New York governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment on Saturday, including a former press aide who detailed an uncomfortable embrace in a dimly lit hotel room and an assistant who said he made her feel like “just a skirt.”
Former press aide Karen Hinton told the Washington Post that Cuomo, then head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, forced her into a “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate” embrace in a dimly lit Los Angeles hotel room in December 2000.
The married press aide retreated but said “he pulls me back for another intimate embrace.”
“I thought at that moment it could lead to a kiss, it could lead to other things, so I just pull away again, and I leave,” said Hinton, who is married to lobbyist Howard Glaser, a longtime Cuomo ally who worked as his director of state operations and senior policy advisor until 2014.
A representative for the governor denied the allegation, telling the Washington Post the incident “did not happen.”
“Karen Hinton is 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,” Peter Ajemian said.
“All women have the right to come forward and tell their story,” he said, though he called Hinton’s accusation “reckless.”
Meanwhile, Ana Liss, a policy and operations aide who worked for Cuomo from 2013 to 2015, told the Wall Street Journal the governor acted inappropriately with her as well, calling her “sweetheart” and asking if she had a boyfriend.
She detailed a May 2014 encounter with the governor in Albany’s executive mansion where she said the governor called her sweetheart, hugged her, kissed both of her cheeks, put his arm around her lower back and grabbed her waist as they turned to have their photo taken by a photographer.
“It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” she said.
A spokesman for Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, defended the behavior as par for the course at public receptions.
“Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures,” Azzopardi said. “At the public open house mansion reception there are hundreds of people and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That’s what people in politics do.”
Liss and Hinton are two of five women to accuse the governor of sexual harassment.
Lindsey Boylan, the former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to Cuomo, on Wednesday published an essay detailing alleged sexual harassment she endured while working for the governor, including unwanted kissing and touching.
She wrote in the essay that Cuomo, with the help of top female aides, “created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected.”
She also detailed an increasingly uncomfortable relationship she developed with the governor, in which he sought her out and set up one-on-one meetings with her.
Boylan recounted a flight she shared with the governor from an event in October 2017 in which Cuomo allegedly said, “Let’s play strip poker.”
On another occasion, Boylan says the pair met one-on-one for a briefing when Cuomo allegedly kissed her.
Days later, former health-policy adviser Charlotte Bennett alleged that the governor harassed her in spring 2020, according to the New York Times. Bennett, 25, said Cuomo asked intrusive questions about her sex life, including an incident on June 5 during which the governor asked whether she was monogamous and if she had sex with older men.
Cuomo said that he “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.” However, the governor did not deny making the statements in question.
He has also denied Boylan’s claims.
Anna Ruch, a former Biden campaign worker who has not worked for Cuomo, accused the governor of giving her an unwanted kiss on the cheek at a wedding in 2019. She said the action left her “confused and shocked and embarrassed.”
New York attorney general Letitia James announced on Monday, after Boylan and Bennett came forward, that her office has received a referral from the Cuomo administration, allowing for an independent investigation of their harassment claims.
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