Rome News-Tribune

Critics: Cuomo apology ‘tone-deaf,’ ignores power imbalance

- By Maryclaire Dale

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.”

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