A 10th woman has come forward to accuse New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual misconduct, alleging that he forcefully kissed her on both cheeks when first meeting her while assessing flood damage in upstate homes four years ago.
Sherry Vill said that in May 2017, Cuomo toured homes that were damaged by flooding from Lake Ontario in Greece, New York with other local officials accompanying them and witnessing the uncomfortable introduction where he grabbed her and laid one on each cheek before moving on.
In a news conference held by attorney Gloria Allred on Monday, March 29, Vill said that at the time, Cuomo explained that’s how Italian-Americans greet each other, reiterating claims he made following previous allegations of sexual harassment.
“That’s when the governor looked at me, approached me, took my hand, and pulled me to him,” Vill, a 55-year-old married mother of three, said. “He leaned down over me and kissed my cheek.
“I was holding my small dog in my arms and I thought he was going to pet my dog. But instead, he went to squeeze between the dog and mine and kiss me on the other cheek in what I felt was a highly sexual manner.”
According to Vill, during the tour, comments made by Cuomo and his actions made her believe that the situation was sexually charged. It is further alleged that Cuomo lingered as other officials left at the end of the visit, calling her “beautiful” before leaving.
“I felt shocked and didn’t understand what had just happened,” Vill said. “But I knew I felt embarrassed and weird about his kissing me. I am Italian, and in my family, family members kiss. Strangers do not kiss, especially upon meeting someone for the first time.”
“The whole thing was so strange and inappropriate and still makes me nervous and afraid because of his power and position,” Vill added. “I am still afraid of him, but I am no longer willing to remain silent.”
Vill said that the awkward encounter led her neighbors and others in town to refer to her as “the governor’s new girlfriend.”
“I know the difference between an innocent gesture and a sexual one,” she continued. “I never felt as uncomfortable as I did the day that Gov. Cuomo came to my home. His actions were very overly sexual, highly inappropriate, and disrespectful to me and my family.”
Since the first accusations were levied against him, Cuomo has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing and refuses to resign from the governor’s office. In his media briefings following the sexual harassment allegations, Cuomo has simply apologized for “anyone who may have been offended by his actions.”
“During times of crisis, the Governor has frequently sought to comfort New Yorkers with hugs and kisses,” Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin said in a statement. “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 40 years.”
Cuomo’s actions remain under investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James and his handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes and the sexual harassment claims are also the subject of an impeachment inquiry by the New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee.
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