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, counsel she and her boss had been “a scorching duo” who ought to have intercourse, and peer into her workplace to examine her out for a “scorching or not” listing.
Niou, then a chief of employees in her late 20s, by no means reported it. She feared it could unfairly drag down her boss. However the experiences stayed together with her.
She bristled Monday on the response from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allegations he sexually harassed two younger girls 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 may have intercourse with older males?’” mentioned Niou, now 38, who turned 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 believe a whole lot of girls learn it that manner.”
Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, has not been seen in public since new particulars of the sexual harassment complaints turned public final week.
One former administration worker, Lindsey Boylan, mentioned Cuomo kissed her on the lips, commented on her look and summoned her to an pointless non-public assembly in his workplace after a vacation occasion.
One other former worker, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett, mentioned Cuomo questioned her about her intercourse life, talked about being lonely and requested if she can be open to a sexual relationship with an older man.
And late Monday, a 3rd girl, Anna Ruch, mentioned in New York Instances 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 in all 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 mentioned 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 mentioned 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 a number of the issues I’ve mentioned have been misinterpreted as an undesirable flirtation,” he continued. “To the extent anybody felt that manner, I’m really sorry.”
Northwestern College regulation professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, who teaches regulation and gender points, mentioned 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’ fully ignores a office hierarchy through which he — the governor of the state — was positioned on the very prime,” Tuerkheimer mentioned.
“It’s in regards to the surroundings. The allegations described an surroundings that made each of those girls really feel degraded … as objects, quite than the competent staff they had been,” she mentioned.
The allegations towards Cuomo emerged virtually precisely a 12 months after the high-profile sexual assault trial in New York of film mogul Harvey Weinstein led to 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 towards 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, virtually 40 years his junior,” is match for workplace.
“If he says ’Yeah, that is how I speak to folks,’ then different girls had been subjected to this,” she mentioned.
Niou believes that sexual harassment in state authorities stays pervasive, however mentioned it is at the very least being mentioned extra brazenly as extra girls take workplace. She took half in a statehouse listening to on the difficulty in 2017 that led to reforms, however she mentioned the brand new legal guidelines usually are not but complete sufficient.
“That is why these tales had been so hanging and might be so relatable, as a result of what number of instances have girls needed to have full profession modifications, had their complete lives altered,” she mentioned, pausing for a heavy sigh, “when a person has exercised energy in that manner?”
“It occurs to so many ladies.”
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