A third woman has gone public with allegations that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) made unwanted advances toward her, and has provided photos and text conversations with friends to back up her claims.
What are the details?
The New York Times reported Monday that Anna Ruch — a former Obama administration employee and Biden 2020 campaign staffer — says upon meeting Cuomo at a wedding in Sept. 2019, he placed his hand on the small of her bare back, which was exposed because of the design of her dress.
The outlet reported:
When she removed his hand with her own, Ms. Ruch recalled, the governor remarked that she seemed "aggressive" and placed his hands on her cheeks. He asked if he could kiss her, loudly enough for a friend standing nearby to hear. Ms. Ruch was bewildered by the entreaty, she said, and pulled away as the governor drew closer.
"I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed," said Ms. Ruch, whose recollection was corroborated by the friend, contemporaneous text messages and photographs from the event. "I turned my head away and didn't have words in that moment."
The Times included a photo provided by Ruch in its story, showing Cuomo with his hands on both sides of her face, which purportedly was taken during the incident.
It was widely dispersed on social media, as shown in the tweet below:
Breaking: A third woman has accused Cuomo of over-the-line behavior. Incredibly, a photographer caught the moment,… https://t.co/W5jm2cPCW1— Jodi Kantor (@Jodi Kantor)1614648123.0
Ruch is the third woman to come forward with sexual harassment allegations against the New York governor in the past week.
The first was Linsey Boylan, who worked for the Democrat from March 2015 to October 2018, and published an account Wednesday outlining explosive claims.
As TheBlaze reported:
The allegations of impropriety include Cuomo asking his aides to play strip poker with him; closed-door meetings between the governor and Boylan, a married woman, in which Cuomo allegedly made references to President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky; Valentine's Day deliveries of roses to Boylan and other female staffers; inappropriate physical touching; and a nonconsensual kiss on the lips.
Over the weekend, a second former Cuomo aide, Charlotte Bennett, told The Times that the governor asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life, and felt that he was "grooming" her in their discussions.
"I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared," she told the newspaper. "And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job."
Following the second claim, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) announced she would launch an investigation into the allegations against the governor.
What does Cuomo say?
On Sunday night, Cuomo issued a lengthy statement where he addressed the allegations from his former aides. Within it, he apologized and suggested his actions toward them had been misconstrued.
Here is his statement in its entirety:
"Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office.
I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends.
At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.
I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.
To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.
That's why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations.
Separately, my office has heard anecdotally that some people have reached out to Ms. Bennett to express displeasure about her coming forward. My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now - period."