New York Gov. Cuomo Addresses Sexual Harassment Allegations

Third woman accuses Andrew Cuomo as sexual misconduct inquiry announced

Anna Ruch claims Mr Cuomo touched her bare back and face at wedding reception before asking to kiss her

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
@graemekmassie
Tuesday 02 March 2021 01:41
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A third woman has come forward to accuse Andrew Cuomo of inappropriate behaviour, alleging that he asked to kiss her at a wedding.

Anna Ruch says that after she met the New York governor at the 2019 celebration and thanked him for toasting the newlyweds, he placed his hand on her bare lower back.

And when she removed it with her own hand she claims Mr Cuomo called her “aggressive”, placed his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her, reports the New York Times.

The accusation comes hours after New York attorney general Letitia James announced that Mr Cuomo had authorised her to carry out an investigation into sexual harassment claims made by two other women.

“I promptly removed his hand with my hand, which I would have thought was a clear enough indicator that I was not wanting him to touch me,” said Ms Ruch of Mr Cuomo touching her back.

“He said, ‘Can I kiss you?’” said Ms Ruch.

“I felt so uncomfortable and embarrassed when really he is the one who should have been embarrassed.” 

Ms Ruch, now 33, told the New York Times that she was stunned by Mr Cuomo’s request and pulled away from the governor.

“I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” said Ms Ruch, who is a former member of the Obama administration and who worked on Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

“I turned my head away and didn’t have words in that moment.”

The newspaper says the event was corroborated by a friend, as well as contemporaneous text messages and photographs from the wedding.

Ms Ruch was so shocked by the event that she later had to ask a friend if Mr Cuomo’s lips had made contact with her face, and was told the governor had kissed her on the cheek.

“It’s the act of impunity that strikes me,” said Ms Ruch.

“I didn’t have a choice in that matter. I didn’t have a choice in his physical dominance over me at that moment.

“And that’s what infuriates me. And even with what I could do, removing his hand from my lower back, even doing that was not clear enough.”

Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old former executive assistant and health policy adviser to Cuomo, came forward over the weekend and spoke to theNew York Times about her experience with the politician.

Ms Bennett told the newspaper that Mr Cuomo had asked her questions about her sex life during a conversation in his State Capitol office.

And she claimed that he told her that he was open to relationships with women in their 20s.

Mr Cuomo denied the claims saying that he had “never made advances toward Ms Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”

Another former aide of the governor, Lindsey Boylan, made her own allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo in a post on Medium.

Ms Boylan alleged that Mr Cuomo had invited her to play “strip poker” during a 2017 flight on his state jet, while another aide was sat next to her.

She also claims that in 2018 Mr Cuomo kissed her on the lips after a briefing on economic and infrastructure projects in his New York City office.

Mr Cuomo denied those allegations in a press conference when they were made last December.

Mr Cuomo released his own statement on Sunday acknowledging the first two set of accusations but defending his actions.

“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended,” he said.

“I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”

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