Last month, a 6th accuser came forward to describe an incident at the executive mansion which was initially described as “inappropriate contact.” A day later we learned this female staffer, whose name was withheld, was claiming the governor had put his hand under her blouse and groped her.
Today the Times Union has published a follow up interview with the 6th accuser in which she describes the incident in her own words starting from the moment she arrived in Cuomo’s office on the 2nd floor of the mansion. Her identity is still being withheld by the paper at her request.
“And that wasn’t just a hug,” she said. “He went for it and I kind of like was, ‘Oh, the door is right there.’ … I was mortified that a woman who works here is going to come in and see. … I was terrified of that happening, because that’s not who I am and that’s not what I’m here for.”…
“I said to him, I said, ‘You’re going to get us in trouble,'” she recalled. “I didn’t know what else to say. … It was pretty much like ‘What are you doing?’ That’s when he slammed the door (shut). He said, ‘I don’t care.'”…
“I remember exactly what I was wearing,” she said. “I remember him slamming (the door) so hard that I remember thinking to myself that I’m sure the staff is, like, ‘Is everything OK up there?’ He came right back and he pulled me close and all I remember is seeing his hand, his big hand. I remember looking down like, ‘Holy sh_.'”
She walked out of the office and went downstairs and got in her car. She was thinking she had to go back to her job at the Capitol and “pretend that, like, that didn’t just happen.” And that’s what she did right up until the governor’s public denials of having touched anyone inappropriately caused her to burst into tears in the office. She still works for the governor though the Times Union says she has lost weight and is “emotionally fragile” because of what happened. Some within the office clearly know who she is because she describes occasionally getting dirty looks from fellow employees.
According to the woman, Cuomo had been grooming her for nearly two years but was always careful to only do and say things when they were alone. She says whenever she would leave his office he would hug her and the hugs got closer and tighter over time. Sometimes he would kiss her cheek, saying it was part of his Italian heritage. But it was clear to her what was going on.
There was another incident, the first one where things really took a turn, when the governor asked to take a selfie with her. She agreed and when they got together he began rubbing his hand on her rear end, so much so that she couldn’t get the camera she was holding in her hand to focus.
Once, about a year ago, the Governor allegedly told her, “Oh, if you were single, the things that I would do to you.” Another time he outright asked if she would “do anything” with someone besides her partner. She said no and the governor replied he was “ready to mingle.”
Later, after the groping incident, she says Cuomo brought up what had happened and made her promise never to talk about it with anyone else. “I could get in big trouble,” he allegedly told her.
The details really add a lot of context to the allegations. They sound pretty consistent with what other accusers have said, i.e. grooming behavior, suggestive comments, inappropriate questions. The difference is that in this case Cuomo went a step beyond all of that to (allegedly) outright grabbing her, similar to the way he crossed a line by kissing Lindsey Boylan on the lips.
The governor has denied the allegations outright. Unlike some of the other claims made by other accusers, there’s simply no way to spin this as innocent behavior. But again, it’s so consistent with the other reports that it seems like part of a pretty clear pattern. I think Cuomo is done once the investigation into his behavior is complete. I’m not even sure why he wants to stick around for the humiliation of having all of this confirmed in a big public announcement, but so far that’s what he seems intent on doing.