A staffer who has accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of groping her at the executive mansion said he slammed the door of his office and told her “I don’t care” after she protested, according to an interview published Wednesday.
The interview with the Times Union of Albany adds new details to the most serious accusation against Cuomo, who is being investigated after a series of women accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.
News 4 is not aware of the woman's identity and has not spoken with her directly. The woman spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her privacy, although her identity is known within the governor's circle, the Times Union reported.
“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,” the woman told the newspaper of the incident she says happened on a weekday last November.
She said that Cuomo had been inappropriately hugging and flirting with her for years, grooming her with tight hugs and kisses on the cheek that she says he blamed on his Italian roots. The woman said that the governor was careful not to do it in front of anyone else, making sure it happened at the mansion or, if it was at the Capitol, that no one was around.
"He looked at me one time and said, 'Oh, if you were single, the things that I would do to you,'" she said to the Times Union.
But this particular incident went even further. The governor reached under her blouse and his hand was grasping one of her breasts over her bra, according to the woman's first public statements on the matter.
"That wasn't just a hug," she told the newspaper. "He went for it and I kind of like was, 'Oh the door is right there' ... I was terrified of that happening, because that's not who I am and that's not what I'm here for."
The woman said the governor backed off after she told him he was "crazy," returning to his desk as she left. She said she had to take a few minutes alone in her car to collect herself after the incident, and believed she had no one she could tell, as her boss was a close confidant of Cuomo's and feared she might lose her job if she spoke up.
The woman said she finally did tell someone, a colleague who noticed her tearing up as the governor issued denials during a live press conference. Some time after that, she filed a complaint and the groping accusation became public.
Attorney Rita Glavin, who represents the governor, said in a statement after the story came out that Cuomo "has repeatedly made clear that he never made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched anyone. The Attorney' General's review of this claim and others, including evolving details and new public statements by complainants or their surrogates, must be thorough, fair and provide the truth."
In response to the paper's initial report of the accuser's claims last month, Cuomo said previously, "I have never done anything like this. The details of this report are gut-wrenching. I am not going to speak to the specifics of this or any other allegation given the ongoing review, but I am confident in the result of the Attorney General’s report.”
Despite Cuomo's claims, the woman claims he told her, "By the way, you can never tell anyone about anything we talk about or, you know, anything, Right? ... I could get in big trouble."
Mariann Wang, the lawyer for fellow Cuomo accuser Alyssa McGrath, said the claims in the latest report are "accurate and consistent with my clients observations and experience working for the governor. The governor's behavior is that of a classic bully and predator: groom, manipulate, slowly move the boundaries, then threaten and punish if anyone dares push back."
Another accuser, Ana Liss, tweeted her support for the woman, saying "My heart breaks for this woman and others afraid to speak."
The governor has repeatedly denied touching anyone inappropriately in recent months as new accusers have made allegations. He has also issued a number of public apologies saying he's sorry if he made anyone uncomfortable.