New Cuomo Accuser Says Governor Kissed Her During 2017 Flood Visit
(Bloomberg) -- An upstate New York woman said Governor Andrew Cuomo used a visit to her home during a 2017 flood emergency as an opportunity to grab her face and twice kiss her on the cheek in an unwanted encounter.
Sherry Vill, 55, a businesswoman from Greece, New York, said at an online news conference Monday that she was unexpectedly “manhandled” by the governor when he came to survey damage to her home after a nearby lake flooded the area. Arriving home from work on the afternoon of May 28, 2017, to find the governor at her home with his entourage, Vill said she asked Cuomo if she and her neighbors “had to live like this.”
“That’s when the governor looked at me, approached me to have my hand and pulled me to him,” said Vill, who said the governor leaned down to kiss her as she held her small Yorkshire terrier in her arms. “I thought he was going to pet my dog, but instead he wedged his face between the dog and mine and kissed me on the other cheek. In what I felt was a highly sexual manner. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
In a statement, Cuomo’s lawyer Rita Glavin said, “During times of crisis, the Governor has frequently sought to comfort New Yorkers with hugs and kisses. As I have said before, the Governor has greeted both men and women with hugs, a kiss on the cheek, forehead or hand for the past forty years.”
‘What Italians Do’
Gloria Allred, Vill’s lawyer, said her client has no intention of filing any lawsuit at this time but was willing to meet with lawyers working with New York Attorney General Letitia James who are investigating allegations from several women that Cuomo sexually harassed them. At least eight accusers have come forward. Cuomo has apologized if he made any of the woman uncomfortable, but has denied any inappropriate behavior.
Vill said, after Cuomo kissed her, he said, “That’s what Italians do, kiss both cheeks.” But Vill noted she was also of Italian descent.
“I am Italian and, in my family, family members kiss,” she said. “Strangers do not kiss, especially upon meeting someone for the first time.”
She added, “I felt he was acting in a highly flirtatious and inappropriate manner, especially in front of my family, and neighbors.” Vill noted that Cuomo is nearly a foot taller than her. “He towered over me,” she said. “There was nothing I could do, when the governor left.”
Allred said Vill’s son took a video of the governor’s visit and that her daughter took a screen grab off the recording which she posted on social media. The original recording no longer exists, Allred said.
The lawyer also showed reporters a copy of a letter Cuomo later sent Vill on official stationery in July 2017, thanking her for her hospitality and promising he’d continue to “work to ensure a stronger, safer future for the local community.”
Allred said a Cuomo staffer also later called Vill and invited her to attend a local event the governor was holding. In her statement, Glavin said it was “common for staffers to contact constituents after events and invite them to a future event on a related topic.”
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