The staffer who accused Andrew Cuomo of groping her said in a new interview that the New York governor sexually groomed her for years prior to the incident.
The staffer, in an interview with the Times Union in Albany, offered new details in her groping allegation, an incident that she said was preceded by years of other unwanted advances from the governor. That allegation, one of several sexual harassment claims for which Cuomo faces investigation, was one of the most explosive charges against him in March.
The staffer recalled how in November, Cuomo called her from the Capitol to the executive mansion. She said that when she arrived in Cuomo’s office, he rose from his desk and hugged her in a way that “wasn’t just a hug.”
“I was mortified that a woman who works here is going to come in and see,” she said. “I was terrified of that happening, because that’s not who I am and that’s not what I’m here for.”
She remembered telling Cuomo, “You’re going to get us in trouble,” to which the governor replied, “I don’t care.” She said he then slammed his office door shut. Cuomo grabbed her again and stuck his hand under her blouse over her bra.
“He came right back, and he pulled me close, and all I remember is seeing his hand, his big hand,” the staffer said. “I remember looking down, like, ‘Holy s—.'”
After the incident, she said she went back to her office and pretended that nothing had happened.
The staffer claimed that in the years preceding the incident, Cuomo would often do other degrading things to her. She said he would often hug or kiss her, excusing his behavior as “Italian.” She also said that he once shot her a look and said, “‘Oh, if you were single, the things that I would do to you.'”
On New Year’s Eve in 2019, the staffer said that Cuomo asked her into his office to take a selfie. As she took the picture, she said he began touching her.
“I remember standing up in his upstairs office, right outside his bedroom,” she said. “I was holding up the phone. I was nervous. As the phone is up, I feel him, like, not just sliding his hands, he’s like rubbing my butt cheek, but not saying anything.”
She said her hands were shaking so much that she could not take the photo. The two sat on a couch instead and took the selfie there instead. Cuomo ordered her not to show it to anyone else.
The staffer recalled other advances from Cuomo but said that after she shut him down, she largely drifted out of his orbit.
Cuomo has denied allegations of sexual harassment, repeatedly telling people calling for his resignation to wait until the investigations against him are concluded before making any judgments. The governor in the past few months has faced massive criticism not only for his personal conduct, but also for his mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, leading to thousands of deaths in nursing homes.