What to Know
- NYC Comptroller and current Democratic mayoral candidate Scott Stringer is facing calls to resign his position and end his campaign after a former intern accused him of groping and sexually harassing her
- Jean Kim made the surprising allegations Wednesday, saying the alleged misconduct occurred in 2001 in bars and taxis, while she was working as an unpaid intern for Stringer's campaign for public advocate
- During an appearance alongside his wife, Stringer denied the allegations in full, admitting that the two had a brief romantic relationship at that time, even as he was living with another woman
New York City Comptroller and current Democratic mayoral candidate Scott Stringer is facing calls to resign his position and end his campaign after a former intern and longtime city lobbyist accused him of groping and sexually harassing her.
Jean Kim made the surprising allegations Wednesday, saying the lawmaker "repeatedly groped me. Put his hands on my thighs and between my legs and demanded to know why I wouldn't have sex with him. He kept saying, 'Why won't you f--- me?'"
She said that the alleged misconduct occurred in 2001 in bars and taxis, while she was working as an unpaid intern for Stringer's campaign for public advocate. Kim insisted that she rejected his advances.
Speaking alongside her lawyer, Kim Explained why she chose now to describe the events she said happened 20 years ago.
"I am coming forward now because being forced to see him in my living room, TV, every day, pretending to be a champion of women's rights, just sickens me when I know the truth," she said at the press conference.
Hours after the accusation came to light, Stringer responded by saying "I don't talk that way. That's not the language I use and didn't use that language ever with Jean." During an appearance alongside his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, Stringer denied the allegations in full.
"I believe women have the right to come forward and be heard. But this isn't me, I didn't do this," he said. "I am gonna fight for the truth because these allegations are false .. the behavior described is inaccurate and completely antithetical to the way I have conducted my life."
Stringer said Kim was a friend and a campaign volunteer, not an intern or subordinate. He also acknowledged that they had a brief romantic relationship at that time, when she was 30 and he was a 41-year-old state assemblyman.
"I believe it was a mutual, consensual relationship. I never used any force, made any threats, or did any of the things that are alleged," the mayoral hopeful said. He also admitted that at the time of what he characterized as a "light relationship" with Kim, he was in a serious relationship with another woman he was living with.
Kim's lawyer said there was no consensual sexual relationship between the two, and that Stringer dangled opportunities before her as he pursued a physical relationship. The lawyer claimed that the politician suggested he could make Kim the first Asian district leader on the west side, but only after she proved her loyalty.
"I have always been fearful of his vindictive nature," Kim said Wednesday.
Buxbaum defended her husband while surprisingly disclosing her own history of abuse, saying "like so many women, I am a survivor of sexual abuse ... in my entire life, I have never met a man more respectful of women and more committed to women’s rights." She added that "if even a fraction of what Scott has been accused of is true, I would not stand by him. I'm not that kind of doting wife."
Stringer has staked much of his candidacy on endorsements from progressive women like State Senators Alessandra Biaggi and Julia Salazar, as well as Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Nou. In a joint statement, the three women said that "As survivors of childhoos sexual assault, we believe survivors." While they did not mention Stringer or the allegations directly, they did call out another powerful state lawmaker.
"Our commitment to a harassment free government, workplace, and society is steadfast, and our zero tolerance standard regarding sexual assault applies to abusers like Andrew Cuomo, if not more so, to our friends. This standard also applies to everyone who participates in the normalization or erasure of abuse. We always hold space for anyone to safely come forward to share their experiences, and will demand accountability accordingly."
Some of the others in the crowded Democratic field for NYC mayor blasted Stringer, and called on him to drop out of the race. Shaun Donovan and former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia also said Stringer needs to step down as comptroller as well. Donovan called the claims "credible, profoundly disturbing and deeply disappointing."
Fellow candidate Maya Wiley said the "behavior, as Kim describes it, is a sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment." Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams also acknowledged the "deeply troubling allegations of assault and I take them seriously. I want to recognize Jean Kim for her courage and bravery today.”
But Andrew Yang — who has been leading the polls in the mayoral race — didn’t mention Stringer and instead focused on the accuser.
"A shout out to Jean Kim. I wanna acknowledge as a survivor she took a brave step this morning. It’s never easy to acknowledge this kind of experience," Yang said.
Lindsey Boylan, one of the women who have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Gov. Cuomo, echoed the calls for Stringer to step down and end his run for mayor.
“I believe Jean Kim and applaud her courage in coming forward today. Women are not the tools of selfish, powerful men. And we will remake the culture so that is clear," Boylan said in a statement. "New York Democrats must build a better world from our ranks and hold our own accountable. That means Scott Stringer must resign as comptroller and drop out of the race for New York City mayor. I identify with Jean’s fear that her career could have been sabotaged had she come forward earlier, and I am disgusted by the Stringer campaign’s gaslighting response."