Anna Ruch, 33, had never met Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) before a New York City wedding reception in September 2019.
According to a report, the governor was working the room after toasting the newlyweds, and when he came upon Ruch, she thanked him for his kind words about her friends.
Cuomo “put his hand on Ruch’s bare lower back,” she said in an interview on Monday.
When she removed his hand with her own, the report cited:
Ruch recalled the governor remarked that she seemed ‘aggressive’ and placed his hands on her cheeks. He asked if he could kiss her, ‘loudly enough for a friend standing nearby to hear.’ Ruch was bewildered by the entreaty and pulled away as the governor drew closer.
“I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” said Ruch, whose recollection was corroborated by the friend, contemporaneous text messages and photographs from the event. “I turned my head away and didn’t have words in that moment.”
“He said, ‘Can I kiss you?’” Ruch said. “I felt so uncomfortable and embarrassed when really he is the one who should have been embarrassed.” Apparently, per the report, a friend captured the exchange in a series of photographs taken on Ruch’s cellphone.
Ruch later said she had to ask a friend if Cuomo’s lips had made contact with her face as she pulled away. The governor had kissed her cheek, she was told. Ruch said:
It’s the act of impunity that strikes me. I didn’t have a choice in that matter. I didn’t have a choice in his physical dominance over me at that moment. And that’s what infuriates me. And even with what I could do, removing his hand from my lower back, even doing that was not clear enough.
Ruch said she posed for a photograph with Cuomo afterward. Once the governor walked away, Ruch’s friend approached her with a look of alarm.
Ruch’s account comes after two former aides accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in the workplace, plunging his third term into turmoil as the governor’s defenders and Cuomo himself strain to explain his behavior.
“The women who have come forward with serious and credible charges against Governor Cuomo deserve to be heard and to be treated with dignity,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “The independent investigation must have due process and respect for everyone involved.”
The Daily Wire reports:
New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday afternoon apologizing for his behavior after two women came forward and claimed that he sexually harassed them while they worked in his administration.
The statement from Cuomo comes after “Lindsey Boylan, a candidate for Manhattan borough president who formerly worked for Cuomo and the state’s economic development agency, revealed in a blog post on Wednesday that the governor had kissed her without her consent and asked her to play strip poker,” Politico reported. “Then, on Saturday, The New York Times reported that Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy adviser to Cuomo, was also sexually harassed by the governor, including inappropriate questions about her sex life.”
“Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office,” the statement began. “I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work, and colleagues are often also personal friends. At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married.”
“I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business,” Cuomo continued. “I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
“To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to,” the statement concluded. “That’s why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations. Separately, my office has heard anecdotally that some people have reached out to Ms. Bennett to express displeasure about her coming forward. My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now – period.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki discussed the issue on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday and suggested that Biden believed the essence of the claims that were being made.
“Charlotte should be treated with respect and dignity. So should Lindsey,” Psaki said. “And there should be an independent review looking into these allegations. And that’s certainly something [Biden] supports and we believe should move forward as quickly as possible.”