Amid growing criticism as women come forward to accuse New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of making inappropriate advances, a third woman spoke publicly, recounting an encounter she had with the governor. The woman, Anna Ruch, gave an account of meeting Cuomo at a September 2019 wedding in a report released by the New York Times on Monday.
Ruch told the Times that Cuomo put his hands on her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her. Ruch told the Times she pulled away as the governor drew closer. The Times said that the account was corroborated by a friend.
The Times shared a photo of Cuomo’s two hands on Ruch’s face.
“I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” said Ruch. “I turned my head away and didn’t have words in that moment.”
Unlike two previous accounts of harassment, Ruch has not been employed by the governor. Ruch is a former member of the Obama administration and was employed by President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.
On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a formal investigation into the governor’s conduct.
“Today, the executive chamber transmitted a referral letter to our office, providing us the authority to move forward with an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment claims made against Governor Cuomo,” James said. “This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously. As the letter states, at the close of the review, the findings will be disclosed in a public report.”
After initially denying the first accusations against him, Cuomo admitted to "flirtation."
“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," Cuomo said.
On Saturday, the New York Times released an account from Charlotte Bennett, who claimed the governor asked “questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she had ever had sex with older men.”
Bennett left the governor’s office last November, and said the harassment came last spring during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the New York Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
Another former staffer, Lindsey Boylan, said in a Wednesday post Cuomo kissed her on the lips without her consent.
“I’m compelled to tell my story because no woman should feel forced to hide their experiences of workplace intimidation, harassment and humiliation — not by the Governor or anyone else,” Boylan said.
Meanwhile, Cuomo is facing heat from Democrats, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who called on Cuomo to resign.
“I don't see how anyone can function as a governor and have the trust of the people and the respect of the people if they purposefully covered up the deaths of thousands of our seniors, our elders, family members, beloved family members who are gone,” de Blasio said. “If you cover that up, or if you did things for reasons that had to do with politics or contributions and if you've sexually harassed young women in your employment, these are disqualifying realities.”