By MARYCLAIRE DALE, Related Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — When she first arrived in Albany to work as a legislative aide in 2013, New York Meeting Member Yuh-Line Niou had lawmakers seize her buttocks, recommend she and her boss have been “a sizzling duo” who ought to have intercourse, and peer into her workplace to test her out for a “sizzling or not” record.
Niou, then a chief of workers in her late 20s, by no means reported it. She feared it might unfairly drag down her boss. However the experiences stayed along with her.
She bristled Monday on the response from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allegations he sexually harassed two younger ladies in state authorities, remarks some on social media referred to as a “faux-pology” that blames victims for misinterpreting his “good-natured” jokes.
“When is it a joke to say ‘Do you will have intercourse with older males?’” stated Niou, now 38, who grew to become a lawmaker herself in 2017, and now represents decrease Manhattan. “I felt prefer it was very a lot gaslighting as an alternative of an apology, and I feel quite a lot of ladies learn it that manner.”
Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, has not been seen in public since new particulars of the sexual harassment complaints grew to become public final week.
One former administration worker, Lindsey Boylan, stated Cuomo kissed her on the lips, commented on her look and summoned her to an pointless personal assembly in his workplace after a vacation get together.
One other former worker, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett, stated Cuomo questioned her about her intercourse life, talked about being lonely and requested if she could be open to a sexual relationship with an older man.
And late Monday, a 3rd girl, Anna Ruch, stated in New York Occasions story that Cuomo touched her again and face with out consent and requested to kiss her in the course of a 2019 wedding ceremony reception, moments after they met.
Bennett criticized Cuomo’s assertion in one among her personal Monday, saying the 63-year-old governor has “refused to acknowledge or take accountability for his predatory habits.”
Cuomo’s workplace didn’t reply to a request for remark Monday. He denied Boylan’s allegations in his assertion and stated that in Bennett’s case, he had supposed to behave like a mentor.
“I’ve teased folks about their private lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I imply no offense and solely try so as to add some levity and banter to what’s a really critical enterprise,” the three-term governor stated within the assertion issued Sunday.
“I now perceive that my interactions could have been insensitive or too private and that a few of my feedback, given my place, made others really feel in methods I by no means supposed. I acknowledge among the issues I’ve stated have been misinterpreted as an undesirable flirtation,” he continued. “To the extent anybody felt that manner, I’m actually sorry.”
Northwestern College regulation professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, who teaches regulation and gender points, stated Cuomo in his assertion ignored the essential energy imbalance at play.
“The notion that his habits was merely undesirable ‘flirtation’ that will have brought about ‘offense’ totally ignores a office hierarchy wherein he — the governor of the state — was positioned on the very prime,” Tuerkheimer stated.
“It’s in regards to the setting. The allegations described an setting that made each of those ladies really feel degraded … as objects, fairly than the competent employees they have been,” she stated.
The allegations in opposition to Cuomo emerged nearly precisely a yr after the high-profile sexual assault trial in New York of film mogul Harvey Weinstein resulted in a conviction, and greater than three years after the #MeToo motion took maintain.
Bennett complained to her bosses and to Cuomo’s authorized counsel final spring about what she deemed the governor’s sexual advances and was transferred to a brand new place earlier than leaving public employment in November.
By Monday, she had retained employment discrimination lawyer Debra Katz, who represented Christine Blasey Ford in her sexual assault accusation in opposition to Supreme Courtroom Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Katz referred to as Cuomo “tone-deaf” and questioned whether or not a governor who asks “invasive, inappropriate questions on a subordinate worker, nearly 40 years his junior,” is match for workplace.
“If he says ’Yeah, that is how I discuss to folks,’ then different ladies have been subjected to this,” she stated.
Niou believes that sexual harassment in state authorities stays pervasive, however stated it is at the very least being mentioned extra brazenly as extra ladies take workplace. She took half in a statehouse listening to on the problem in 2017 that led to reforms, however she stated the brand new legal guidelines aren’t but complete sufficient.
“That is why these tales have been so putting and may very well be so relatable, as a result of what number of instances have ladies needed to have full profession adjustments, had their complete lives altered,” she stated, pausing for a heavy sigh, “when a person has exercised energy in that manner?”
“It occurs to so many ladies.”
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