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Society

A Look at the Workplace Sex Harassment Claims Against Cuomo

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing allegations that he sexually harassed or behaved inappropriately toward a half-dozen women who have worked with him. In an interview published by the Times Union  of Albany on Wednesday, a woman who is still on his staff gave more details on her allegation that the Democrat groped her under her blouse in the governor's mansion in November. 

Other accusations range from planting unwanted kisses to asking unwelcome personal questions about sex and dating.

The governor  has said that he "never touched anyone inappropriately" and "never made any inappropriate advances," and that no one ever told him at the time that he was making them uncomfortable. He has called some allegations false. 

Cuomo has also suggested that he was simply being an old-school politician in greeting people with hugs and kisses but that "sensitivities" have changed. 

A look at the workplace allegations, in the order they became public:

LINDSEY BOYLAN, 36, a former state economic development adviser, says the governor kissed her on the lips as she was leaving a one-on-one meeting in his office and suggested playing strip poker on a state plane. Cuomo says both stories are false. Among her other allegations: Cuomo summoned her alone to his office after a holiday party and made what she took to be a reference to former President Bill Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The governor also sent Valentine's Day roses to Boylan and other female staffers, she said.

CHARLOTTE BENNETT, 25, a former Cuomo aide, said the governor asked her about her love life — including whether she ever had sex with older men — and talked about his own, saying that age differences didn't matter in relationships and he was open to dating women over 22. During a meeting alone in his office, the governor said he was lonely and talked about wanting to hug someone, Bennett said. She said she swiftly complained to Cuomo's chief of staff and was transferred to another job. She said she spoke to a lawyer for the governor, but didn't insist on further action because she liked her new post and wanted to move on.

ANA LISS, 35, a former aide, said Cuomo asked her whether she had a boyfriend, once kissed her hand at her desk and called her by patronizing names, including "blondie," "sweetheart" and "honey." At a reception, the governor hugged her then put his arm around her lower back and waist as they posed for photo, Liss said. She said she eventually asked for a job transfer. In an interview, Liss said she was "not claiming sexual harassment per se," but felt the administration "wasn't a safe space for young women to work."

KAREN HINTON, who worked for Cuomo when he was Clinton's federal housing secretary in the 1990s,  said Cuomo gave her an overly long and intimate hug after calling her to his hotel room for a conversation that turned to personal topics on a trip where she was serving as a consultant to the housing agency. Cuomo said Hinton's account was "not true."

A MEMBER OF CUOMO'S STAFF alleged that he closed a door, reached under her blouse and fondled her after summoning her to the governor's mansion in Albany for help with his cellphone, according to the Times Union of Albany. It first reported on her accusation last month; she then gave more detail in her first interview  on the matter, published Wednesday. The woman spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her privacy, although her identity is known within the governor's circle, the Times Union reported.

The woman, an executive assistant, told the Times Union the governor gave her kisses on the cheek and inappropriately tight hugs for years and made remarks including, "If you were single, the things that I would do to you" and "I'm single and ready to mingle."

Then, one day in November, she was summoned to his Executive Mansion office to help him with a cellphone problem, she said. He got up from his desk, started groping her, told her "I don't care" after she tried to deflect him by saying he was going to get them into trouble, and then slammed the door, she said.

Then he reached under her blouse and clutched one of her breasts over her bra, she told the newspaper. 

The woman told a colleague this winter about the alleged encounter, and the co-worker told a supervisor in early March, according to the newspaper.

Cuomo called the report "gut-wrenching" in a March statement and said: "I have never done anything like this." Responding to the additional details disclosed Wednesday, Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin said the governor "has repeatedly made clear that he never made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched anyone."

ALYSSA McGRATH, 33, a current administrative assistant in Cuomo's office, told The New York Times  that he looked down her shirt, quizzed her about her marital status, and told her she was beautiful, using an Italian phrase she had to ask her parents to interpret.

McGrath didn't say the governor made sexual contact with her but thought his behavior was sexual harassment. She recalled Cuomo kissing her on the forehead and gripping her firmly around the sides while posing for a photo at a 2019 office Christmas party. 

Glavin responded by reiterating his denials of inappropriate advances and touching. She told the Times he has greeted both men and women with hugs and kisses on the cheek, has put his arm around people for photos and uses such Italian phrases as "ciao bella" ("hi, beautiful" or "'bye, beautiful"), though she said he didn't say that to McGrath. 

"None of this is remarkable, although it may be old-fashioned," Glavin added. 

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