A married New York woman said Monday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo grabbed her by her face, gave her unwanted kisses and appeared to come on to her in front of her son while touring flood damage on her property in 2017.
Sherry Vill said she was introduced to Cuomo, in her Greece, New York, home where he leaned over and kissed her cheeks in a “highly sexual manner.”
“He said, ‘That’s what Italians do — kiss both cheeks,'” Vill told reporters in an online news conference with her lawyer, Gloria Allred.
Vill said she was shocked by Cuomo’s actions. “I am Italian. In my family, family members kiss. Strangers do not kiss,” Vill said.
As Cuomo, a Democrat, left to tour her property, Vill said he stopped, turned to her and said, “You’re beautiful.”
“I felt he was coming on to me in my own home,” Vill said. She said she felt so uncomfortable that she didn’t go with him as he toured the property — but he circled back afterward anyway to give her another unwanted kiss.
“He took my hand and said, ‘Is there anything else you want?'” she recounted. He then leaned down “forcibly grabbed my face” with his other hand “and kissed my cheek,” Vill said.
She added that Cuomo is about a foot taller than her. “I felt like I was being manhandled,” she said.
“Within days,” Vill said, she received a call from a woman in Cuomo’s office inviting her to an event with the governor.
“She didn’t say my husband and I, my family and I — just me. I was the only one who received the call,” she said, adding that she never returned the call. “The whole thing was so strange and inappropriate.”
Later on, the governor’s office sent her pictures of her and the governor speaking, one of which was signed by Cuomo. Vill’s son, whose age was not given, captured one of the kisses on video that Allred showed a screenshot of. Allred said the son no longer has the video.
Rita Glavin, a lawyer for Cuomo, said, “During times of crisis, the governor has frequently sought to comfort New Yorkers with hugs and kisses. 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 forty years.”
She also said there was nothing untoward about the event invitation or the pictures. “It is common for staffers to contact constituents after events and invite them to a future event on a related topic,” Glavin said.
Since the first of now over a half-dozen sexual misconduct allegations were leveled at Cuomo over the past month, the governor has denied touching anyone inappropriately, but acknowledged that he may have acted in ways that made people feel uncomfortable. He said that was unintentional and apologized. The incidents are being investigated by the state attorney general’s office and the state Assembly has opened an impeachment inquiry into Cuomo’s actions.
Cuomo has said repeatedly he will not resign, despite calls for him to step down from the bulk of New York’s congressional delegation and dozens of state legislators.
Allred said that Vill will cooperate with Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation, and that they would reach out to her office later on Monday.
Vill said she didn’t speak out earlier because she was scared of Cuomo. “I’m still afraid, but no longer willing to stay silent,” she said.
Vill is the fifth women to complain that Cuomo gave unwanted hugs or kisses, and her account resembles one by another woman, Anna Ruch, this month. Ruch, 33, told the New York Times that Cuomo, whom she had just met, placed his hands on her face and asked to kiss her at a wedding in 2019. Ruch said she was trying to pull away when he did.
Cuomo said then that he hadn’t meant any offense.
“Kissing people, men, women, it is my usual and customary way of greeting,” he told reporters this month. “I understand that sensitivities have changed, and behavior has changed. And I get it, and I’m going to learn from it.”
In addition to the kissing and hugging allegations, another woman, a state employee, has claimed that Cuomo groped her, and others have accused him of asking inappropriate questions and making inappropriate comments. He’s denied touching anyone inappropriately.
“Another case of inappropriate touching from the man (@NYGovCuomo) who says he has never inappropriately touched women. I guess we are all liars doing this for … the massive legal bills and potential infamy?’ she wrote.