Former aide accuses Cuomo of sexual harassment

Ms Lindsey Boylan described her experience working for Mr Andrew Cuomo as "beyond toxic" and "endlessly dispiriting". PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - A former aide to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday (Dec 13) accused him of sexual harassment, asserting that the governor would often discuss her physical appearance, something she said occurred over the course of years.

"I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks," Ms Lindsey Boylan, the former aide, wrote on Twitter.

"Or would it be both in the same conversation?"

Ms Boylan declined multiple requests for further comment.

She has thus far discussed no specific allegations, nor did she provide any immediate corroboration.

"There is simply no truth to these claims," the governor's press secretary, Ms Caitlin Girouard, said on Sunday.

On Twitter, Ms Boylan explained her policy of not taking questions from reporters on the topic.

"I have no interest in talking to journalists," she wrote.

"I am about validating the experience of countless women and making sure abuse stops. My worst fear is that this continues."

"And as @FKAtwigs said yesterday, my second worst fear is having to talk about and relive this," she said, referring to the musician, who on Friday sued an ex-boyfriend, actor Shia LaBeouf, alleging he physically and emotionally abused her.

Ms Boylan recently launched a campaign for Manhattan borough president, following a failed bid to unseat Representative Jerrold Nadler on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Before running for Congress, Ms Boylan, 36, worked as a deputy secretary for economic development and as a special adviser to the governor, according to her LinkedIn page.

She has been a frequent critic of Mr Cuomo and has long hinted at tensions with the governor's office on social media.

In 2019, Ms Boylan, whose daughter was five at the time, tangled with a former Cuomo aide, Mr Jim Malatras, about the extent to which the office accommodated working parents.

In another Twitter thread earlier this month, Ms Boylan described her experience working for Mr Cuomo as "beyond toxic" and "endlessly dispiriting".

And on Saturday, after The Associated Press reported that President-elect Joe Biden was considering the governor for attorney-general, Ms Boylan pleaded with Mr Biden to reconsider.

"There are fewer things more scary than giving this man, who exists without ethics, even more control," she said on Twitter.

"I saw how he wielded power for years. He takes advantage of people, including me. I hope @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris don't do this."

In the wake of the national reckoning brought on by the #MeToo movement, Mr Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, signed a series of measures to address sexual harassment in 2018, including mandating standards for sexual harassment training in the state's workplaces.

Mr Cuomo has also backed other recent measures devoted to combating harassment, including extending the statute of limitations for such claims.

But the governor's approach to the issue has also sometimes seemed awkward.

In late 2017, Mr Cuomo had a testy exchange with a longtime Capitol reporter, Ms Karen DeWitt, after she asked a question about his response to sexual harassment in state government.

Another former state employee had accused a former aide to the governor, Mr Sam Hoyt, of sexual harassment and assault.

"When you say it's state government, you do a disservice to women, with all due respect, even though you're a woman," the governor told Ms DeWitt, before clarifying that he meant the conversation around the issue should be more widely discussed.

"It's not government, it's society," he said. "It's not just one person in one area."

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