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New details have been released by Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who has accused him of sexual assault and wrongdoings in the past.
In a lengthy blog post released on Wednesday, Feb 24, Boylan outlined a series of sexual harassment claims, including an allegation that Cuomo kissed her "on the lips” without warning in his Manhattan office.
Cuomo previously denied any allegations of wrongdoing, though he has yet to comment on the latest claims.
Boylan, now a Democratic candidate for Manhattan borough president, was the former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor. In her essay, she alleges that Cuomo routinely sought her out and made inappropriate comments during meetings.
It is also alleged that Cuomo proposed playing a game of strip poker with her on a flight from Western New York in October 2017.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected,” Boylan said.
“His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right,” she added. “He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.”
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Boylan said that she was not the only victim of Cuomo, and that other staff members had confided in her that they had been the subject of harassment at the hands of Cuomo.
“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,” she said.
Boylan further alleges that Cuomo and his administration leaked information to the media “in an effort to smear (her),” and that “the governor’s loyalists called around town, asking about me.”
“I expect the Governor and his top aides will attempt to further disparage me, just as they’ve done with Assemblymember (Ron) Kim,” she said. “They’d lose their jobs if they didn’t protect him. That’s how his administration works. I know because I was a part of it.”
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According to Boylan, she was cautioned to “be careful around the governor” and that she was later informed that Cuomo had a “crush” on her.
“I had complained to friends that the governor would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms, and legs,” Boylan said. “His senior staff began keeping tabs on my whereabouts. ‘He is a sexist pig and you should avoid being alone with him!’ my mother texted me on November 4, 2016.”
Boylan further alleges that at an event at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, the governor found her in a room filled with hundreds, at which point she left the area. She then received a call from an unlisted number that turned out to be Cuomo’s body person who instructed her to go to the Capitol.
“As he showed me around, I tried to maintain my distance,” she said. “He paused at one point and smirked as he showed off a cigar box.
“He told me that President Clinton had given it to him while he served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The two-decade-old reference to President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was not lost on me.”
Other alleged inappropriate gestures include Cuomo sending roses on Valentine’s Day, and an unsolicited signed photograph of the governor that showed up in her office.
Boylan said that in 2018 she was promoted to Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Special Advisor to the Governor, though she initially turned down the job “not because I didn’t want the responsibility or work but because I didn’t want to be near him.”
The alleged behavior and harassment extended beyond Boylan, to her other colleagues who received disparaging comments and were criticized for romantic engagements.
“I tried to excuse his behavior. I told myself ‘it’s only words,’” Boylan said. “But that changed after a one-on-one briefing with the Governor to update him on economic and infrastructure projects.
“We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.”
Boylan concluded that her fears worsened from there, and her relationship with Cuomo’s senior team, which was largely made up of women, grew hostile when she began speaking up and out for herself.
“There is a part of me that will never forgive myself for being a victim for so long, for trying to ignore behavior that I knew was wrong,” Boylan said. “The Governor exploited my weaknesses, my desire to do good work and to be respected. I was made to believe this was the world I needed to survive in.”
At the end of her blog post, Boylan also took a shot at Cuomo’s current top aide, Melissa DeRosa, while calling the behavior in the governor’s office “normalized.”
“After my tweets about the governor in December, two women reached out to me with their own experiences,” Boylan said. “One described how she lived in constant fear, scared of what would happen to her if she rejected the Governor’s advances. The other said she was instructed by the governor to warn staff members who upset him that their jobs could be at risk. Both told me they are too afraid to speak out.
“I am speaking up because I have the privilege to do so when many others do not,” she continued. “No one should have to be defined or destroyed by this kind of sexual harassment. Nor should they be re-victimized if they decide to speak their own truth.”
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