A former press aide to the governor, Karen Hinton, told The Washington Post that Cuomo summoned her to his “dimly lit” hotel room and embraced her twice after a work event in 2000.
Hinton said she pulled away from Cuomo and he pulled her back toward his body, holding her in embrace before she backed out of the room.
Peter Ajemian, Cuomo’s director of communications, aggressively denied the allegations in a statement to The Post.
“This did not happen,” he said. “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. All women have the right to come forward and tell their story — however, it’s also the responsibility of the press to consider self-motivation. This is reckless.”
In response to the Cuomo office’s denial, Hinton said “attacking the accuser is the classic playbook of powerful men trying to protect themselves.”
At the same time, another former aide, Anna Liss, said that when she worked for Cuomo as a policy and operations aide from 2013 to 2015, the governor asked her if she had a boyfriend, touched her on her lower back and kissed her hand as she rose from her desk.
Liss said she initially thought Cuomo’s flirtations were harmless, but over time came to see them as patronizing. She said it diminished her from an educated professional to “just a skirt.”
“It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” she said.
In response to Liss’ account, Cuomo spokesperson Richard Azzopardi told The Wall Street Journal: “Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures. 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.”
Lindsey Boylan, the first woman publicly to come out and allege the governor of repeated sexual misconduct, said she is “very proud” of Liss for coming forward.
“I am very proud of Ana Liss. She is brave and she speaks for me too,” she wrote on Twitter. “‘I just wish—I wish that @NYGovCuomo took me seriously,’ she said. It’s extremely destructive that our boss, the governor of New York, treated us this way.”
“Resign you disgusting monster, @NYGovCuomo,” she added in a subsequent tweet.
Meanwhile, two male aides told The Post that the governor routinely used explicit language to berate them, calling them “pussies” and saying, “You have no balls.”
Hinton said that Cuomo’s news conference this week, where he appeared sullen and apologetic when talking about the allegations, “drove me crazy.”
She said Cuomo knew better, and was using flirtation to manipulate those around him.
“I really thought the flirt wasn’t about having sex,” she said. “It was about controlling the relationship.”
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly, I am embarrassed by it,” Cuomo said in his press conference Wednesday.
Still, he denied ever touching anyone inappropriately.
In the days prior to the press conference, former aide Lindsey Boylan, who in addition to accusing the governor of making often-repeated sexual innuendos to her, accused Cuomo of kissing her on the lips and going “out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs.” Anna Ruch, 33, claimed Cuomo put his hands on her lower back and tried to kiss her at a wedding in 2019. Charlotte Bennett, 25-year-old former Cuomo staffer, claimed Cuomo talked about his willingness to have relationships with women in their 20s.
But Cuomo said kissing is “my usual, customary way of greeting.”
“You can find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people men, women. It is my usual customary way of greeting. By the way it was my father’s way of greeting the governor of this state,” Cuomo said.
“However I also understand it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter my intent, it matters if anyone was offended by it… If they were offended by it, it was wrong,” he continued.
Cuomo said that in the face of these new allegations and the nursing home scandal, he is not willing to step down from the office.
“I’m not going to resign. I work for the people of the state of New York. … We have COVID, we have recovery, we have rebuilding, we have a teetering New York City.”
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