The New York State employee who claims former Governor Andrew Cuomo grabbed her butt at a public event tells state investigators it left her feeling shocked and ‘small’.
In a transcript released by the state attorney general last week, the female event organizer told state investigators that the former governor grabbed her butt at a Hudson River revitalization event on September 14, 2019.
She said the governor grabbed her arm to ‘pull me into the photo,’ and when it was over ‘he took his hand and double-tapped the area where my butt and my thigh meet, so kind of under my butt cheek.’
‘I was really shocked,’ she said. ‘I felt much like smaller and almost younger than I actually am because kind of the funny part of it all is I was making this project happen.’
The female employee said she was originally afraid to come forward about the allegation, out of fear of retribution.
But the former governor was forced to resign earlier this year, as he faced impeachment over Attorney General Letitia James’ report concluding that he had sexually assaulted 11 women, including current and former staffers. He was charged last month with forcible touching, two months after being pushed out of office by James following her report on the sexual harassment allegations.
In her testimony, the female worker said the former governor attended an event in September 2019 that was hosted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the nonprofit Hudson River Trust.
The trust, which was set up by state law, has a governing board whose members are appointed by the governor and New York City mayor.
A female New York state employee claims former Governor Andrew Cuomo grabbed her butt after they took this photo together in September 2019
The former governor attended an event that day that was hosted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the nonprofit Hudson River Trust. His attorneys say it was a public event and photos and video from the event do not show any misconduct
The female employee said it was at that event when she and her boss introduced themselves to the former governor, and he suggested they take a picture together.
But, she told state investigators: ‘At the conclusion of the photo he took his hand and double-tapped the area where my butt and my thigh meet, so kind of under my butt cheek.
‘It felt like kind of his fingers moved two times upward to be kind of, you know, grab that area between my butt and my thigh,’ she said, noting: ‘I think immediately after I knew it was wrong, but I think the weight of the situation was a little heavy.’
She explained that she didn’t want to think she was assaulted by the governor.
‘Maybe my jaw opened, like that’s how surprised I was that this occurred, because it was just like, to me … you have to be joking.
The female employee said she immediately told her supervisor about the alleged groping after it happened.
‘I think I said, you know, “the governor grabbed my butt, patted my butt” something where I directly said that there was like an action towards my butt.’
But, she said, her supervisor ‘seemed confused.
‘She gave me eye contact, but there was no verbal acknowledgement,’ the female employee recounted. ‘So I repeated myself and I said it a second time, and so, again, there wasn’t a verbal acknowledgement that I had said that.’
The alleged victim said she did, however, receive support from family and friends, providing copies of text messages she exchanged with them afterwards.
In one, she tells a confidant she ‘took a pic together and Gov. Cuomo patted me on the butt. Yuck,’ and in another, she said that while she believed Cuomo intentionally touched her, she conceded the way he moved his fingers along her butt cheek may have been ‘a mistake.’
The woman told investigators she didn’t report the incident at the time because there had been no evidence at the time that the governor was mistreating or harassing women.
And, she said, she feared telling people about the alleged incident could derail her career.
‘It felt very scary to report something against someone who has so much power – and I very much felt like the burden and the impact was going to be, like, fully on me.
‘Like I was going to perhaps have my career impacted.’
The woman shared with investigators screen shots of conversations she had with her friends and family who supported her in the aftermath
In response to these claims, Cuomo said he did not even remember attending the event, and when asked by state investigators whether he touched anyone’s butt, he replied ‘No.’
And in a written rebuttal of Attorney General Letitia James’ report, a lawyer representing Cuomo complained that the investigators did not even show the governor some photos of the event to refresh his memory, the New York Post reports.
The attorney, Rita Glavin, added that the worker’s ‘testimony was that the Governor then moved his fingers upward to kind of grab that area between [her] butt and [her] thigh – not that he grabbed her butt.’
She also said it was a public event that the former governor attended with his daughters, and claimed none of the photos and videos from the event showed him engaging in any inappropriate behavior.
Even so, Glavin claimed, the woman’s allegations do not amount to sexual harassment.
‘If anything, the governor had fleeting physical contact with this individual as he posed for pictures.
‘He did not intentionally “grab” anyone’s butt.’
In August, Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office concluded Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women while serving as governor
He has denied the allegations, but resigned in disgrace in the wake of the report
Cuomo was forced to resign from office in August following an investigation overseen by Attorney General Letitia James that concluded he sexually harassed 11 women while serving as governor.
Cuomo – who denies touching anyone inappropriately or intending to make suggestive comments – accused the women of exaggerating or misinterpreting his behavior.
He is now reportedly considering a run for James’ seat in 2022.