New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s former aide says he sexually assaulted her when he kissed her without consent. Lindsey Boylan says Cuomo also asked if she wanted to play strip poker and noted the behavior had turned into a pattern before she left the job. Her job involved helping out the NY economic development agency.
Boylan is currently running to become a New York City borough president in Manhattan. Boylan wrote, “We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.
Governor Cuomo is under increased pressure right now as allegations of coronavirus wrongdoing continue to pile up. He is accused of covering up deaths at state nursing homes. When Assemblymember Ron Kim criticized the alleged cover-up, Cuomo allegedly threatened to “destroy” him in response.
Boylan wrote, “Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive 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. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.”
Cuomo has vehemently denied the allegations. When they were first made in December 2020, he said, “Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has a right to come forward and express her opinion, and express issues and concerns that she has. But it’s just not true.”
When Boylan left the office the night of the alleged assault, she passed another woman’s desk. Boylan described her feelings that night: “I was scared she had seen the kiss. 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. My relationship with his senior team — mostly women — grew hostile after I started speaking up for myself. I was reprimanded and told to get in line by his top aides, but I could no longer ignore it.”
Boylan’s allegations have also been called into question by other staffers who were present on each of these nights. John Maggiore, Dani Lever, Howard Zemsky, and Abbey Fashouer Collins have all denied that he asked Boylan or anyone else to play strip poker. Activists were quick to point out that just because you don’t see or hear about someone being harassed — doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
It’s likely that investigations into Cuomo’s potential criminal wrongdoing will be launched over the coming weeks, but whether or not they amount to anything substantial could be a different story. The governor is not immune simply by being in office, and unlike the president he is much more likely to be arrested if found guilty of wrongdoing.