Cuomo’s Office Responds to Aide’s Sexual Harassment Claims

Isabel van Brugen
By Isabel van Brugen
February 25, 2021Politics
Cuomo’s Office Responds to Aide’s Sexual Harassment Claims
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Feb. 22, 2021. (Seth Wenig/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Feb. 24 responded to sexual harassment claims from a former female member of his administration, who accused him of making inappropriate remarks, and touching and kissing her without consent.

In a post published on the website Medium on Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, the former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to Cuomo, shared details of her experience working under the New York leader’s administration. She said she hoped her account will “make it easier for others to speak their own truth.”

She first accused Cuomo of sexual harassment last year but didn’t elaborate on the details of her story.

The governor “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms, and legs,” compared her to one of his rumored former girlfriends and once suggested that they should “play strip poker” on a flight from an event in October 2017.

When Cuomo made the “crude comment,” he was seated facing opposite her, “so close our knees almost touched,” Boylan said, noting that at the time, his press aide was to her right, and a state trooper was behind them. She did not mention who else might have been on the plane.

Boylan, a Democrat running for Manhattan borough president, accused Cuomo of creating “a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so presage that it is not only condoned but expected.”

“His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right,” she claimed. “He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.”

In a statement to The Epoch Times on Wednesday, the Democratic governor’s office said that Boylan’s “claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false.”

“In Ms. Boylan’s latest blog post, she opens up with a story about a plane trip in October 2017 … there was no flight where Lindsey was alone with the Governor, a single press aide, and a NYS Trooper,” Cuomo’s spokesperson Caitlin Girouard said.

Cuomo’s office sent over a list of flight details dated Oct. 4, Oct. 6, Oct. 12, and Oct. 17, that say then-Director of Policy John Maggiore, President and CEO of Empire State Development Howard Zemsky, former Press Secretary Dani Lever and First Deputy Press Secretary Abbey Fashouer Collins, “were on all of these flights with” Boylan.

“We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen,” they all said in an attributed statement from Girouard.

Boylan in her post recalled another incident in December 2016, claiming that the governor arranged to meet her in his office in Albany, and then proceeded to give her a tour. He “smirked” and showed her a cigar box that he said he was gifted to him by former President Bill Clinton when he worked as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

She said it was clear that the gesture was a reference to Clinton’s affair with his then-intern Monica Lewinsky in the mid-1990s.

“The Governor must have sensed my fear because he finally let me out of the office,” she said, alleging that from that moment forward, his “inappropriate gestures” became more frequent.

Boylan also said that on Valentine’s Day, Cuomo gave roses to all his female staffers, including herself. These were “not-so-subtle reminders of the Governor exploiting the power dynamic with the women around him,” she said.

On one occasion, Boylan alleged Cuomo “stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips” without consent in his New York City office. The incident left her in “shock,” she said.

“The idea that someone might think I held my high-ranking position because of the Governor’s crush on me was more demeaning than the kiss itself.

“After that, my fears worsened. I came to work nauseous every day,” she added. Boylan informed colleagues of her resignation on Sept. 26, 2018.

“There is a part of me that will never forgive myself for being a victim for so long, for trying to ignore behavior that I knew was wrong. The Governor exploited my weaknesses, my desire to do good work and to be respected. I was made to believe this was the world I needed to survive in,” she wrote.

Cuomo’s behavior “was all so normalized—particularly by Melissa DeRosa and other top women around him—that only now do I realize how insidious his abuse was,” she claimed.

“I am speaking up because I have the privilege to do so when many others do not. No one should have to be defined or destroyed by this kind of sexual harassment. Nor should they be revictimized if they decide to speak their own truth,” Boylan concluded. “I hope that sharing my story will clear the path for other women to do the same.”

Boylan didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times