Critics: Cuomo apology ‘tone-deaf,’ ignores power imbalance
When Yuh-line Niou first arrived in Albany to work as a legislative aide in 2013, lawmakers grabbed her buttocks, suggested she and her boss were “a hot duo” who should have sex, and peered into her office to check her out for a “hot or not” list.
Niou, then a chief of staff in her late 20s, never reported it. She feared it would unfairly drag down her boss. But the experiences stayed with her.
She bristled Monday at the response from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allegations he sexually harassed two young women in state government, remarks some on social media called a “faux-pology” that blames victims for misinterpreting his “good-natured” jokes.
“When is it a joke to say ‘Do you have sex with older men?’” said Niou, now 37, who became a member of the New York Assembly herself in 2017 and represents lower Manhattan. “I felt like it was very much gaslighting instead of an apology, and I think a lot of women read it that way.”
Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, has not been seen in public since new details of the sexual harassment complaints became public last week.
One former administration employee, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo kissed her on the lips, commented on her appearance and summoned her to an unnecessary private meeting in his office after a holiday party.
Another former employee, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo questioned her about her sex life, talked about being lonely and asked if she would be open to a sexual relationship with an older man.
And late Monday, a third woman, Anna Ruch, said in New York Times story that Cuomo touched her back and face without consent and asked to kiss her in the middle of a 2019 wedding reception, moments after they met.
Bennett criticized Cuomo’s statement in one of her own Monday, saying the 63-yearold governor has “refused to acknowledge or take responsibility for his predatory behavior.”