Woman accuses Cuomo of kissing her against her wishes in 2017
Another woman has accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of “unwanted, unwelcome physical contact,” the latest in a series of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct levied against the governor.
The woman, Sherry Vill, said during a press conference on Monday afternoon that the governor “suddenly grabbed her face and kissed her” in 2017 outside of her home in the town of Greece, which borders Lake Ontario. Cuomo was visiting the area to survey flood damage in the wake of a storm.
She said that Cuomo commented on her appearance and kissed her two times with other family members present, advances that she alternately described as being in a “highly sexual” and “highly aggressive” manner.
“I felt shocked and did not know what happened,” said Vill.
She said she was later invited to an event in town with the governor and was sent pictures and letters by his office — a gesture she found unsettling. “The whole thing made me feel nervous,” Vill said.
Rita Glavin, an outside attorney representing Cuomo, reiterated previous statements that the governor regularly kisses men and women as a matter of course.
“During times of crisis, the Governor has frequently sought to comfort New Yorkers with hugs and kisses,” Glavin said in a statement. “As I have said before, the Governor has greeted both men and women with hugs, a kiss on the cheek, forehead or hand for the past forty years.”
Glavin added that neither the photographs nor the invitation to an official event are uncommon gestures to people with whom the governor has interacted.
Vill has hired high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, who has represented women who alleged sexual misconduct against former President Donald Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, among others.
Vill presented the documents Cuomo’s office sent her, as well as a screengrab captured by her daughter from video footage taken by Vill’s son that appeared to show the governor grabbing her by the face and kissing her. However, neither Vill nor her son still have the original footage of the alleged incident, which her attorney said has been deleted.
Earlier this month another woman, Anna Ruch, accused the governor of a similar unwanted advance at a wedding in 2019 in which the governor purportedly held her face and attempted to kiss her, a photo of which was published by The New York Times.
They are just two of a growing number of women who have made allegations against Cuomo, a group that includes several current and former members of his staff.
The governor has apologized for making women uncomfortable but has denied the most grievous allegations against him and has insisted that he will not resign, despite bipartisan calls for him to do so. He said he expects to be vindicated once the allegations are fully investigated.
The governor’s office did not immediately return a request to comment Monday afternoon.
“The governor’s a very powerful person in New York, and her family was concerned about what might happen if she reported — whether or not it would be something that would cause retaliation towards her or members of her family,” Allred said.
Allred — who answered questions from reporters on her client’s behalf — said Vill is reporting the incident to state Attorney General Tish James’ office, which is overseeing an investigation into the multiple allegations against Cuomo.
Allred added that Vill may also take action against the governor following the conclusion of the attorney general’s probe, but there are “no plans for that at this time.”
Allred also signaled that Vill would not participate in a separate investigation being conducted by the state Assembly as part of a possible impeachment proceeding.
“At this point, our plan is only to contact the AG’s office,” Allred said.
Several of the women who have accused Cuomo of harassment or other misconduct have also expressed misgivings about the Assembly investigation for a variety of reasons.
Monday’s press conference came a few hours after Cuomo announced the state is expanding eligibility to Covid-19 vaccines to any New Yorker aged 30 and older, starting Tuesday.
The vaccine announcement was issued via press release, rather than at a public event as Cuomo typically prefers.