- Another woman came forward Monday to accuse NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo of unwanted physical contact.
- Sherry Vill, a New York resident, said Cuomo kissed her without consent outside her home in 2017.
- She said she felt, “shocked,” “embarrassed,” and “weird about his kissing me.”
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A tenth woman, Sherry Vill, came forward on Monday to accuse New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of making unwanted physical advances toward her.
Vill, 55, is a New York resident, and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, said at a news conference that Cuomo grabbed Vill’s face in 2017 and kissed her without consent outside her home. Allred also said in a press release earlier Monday that her client would “explain why the Governor was at her home and who witnessed the kiss.”
At the news conference, Vill, who lives in a suburb of Rochester, said the alleged incident took place in May 2017, when Cuomo visited her neighborhood after a flood to survey damages and hold a press conference.
“I was asked by a staffer if I would allow the governor to come into, view our damages, and I agreed,” Vill said. “Governor Cuomo went into my house with my husband, son, along with his staff and some town officials. I came in shortly afterward, and when I walked in, I said to the governor, ‘Do you think that we have to live like this?'”
“That’s when the governor looked at me, approached me, took my hand, and pulled me to him,” Vill continued. “He leaned down over me and kissed my cheek. I was holding my small dog in my arms and I thought he was going to pet my dog, but instead he wedged his face between the dog and mine and kissed me on the other cheek.”
Vill went on to say that she found the interaction “highly sexual” and “wasn’t expecting that at all.” Afterward, she said the governor told her, “That’s what Italians do: kiss both cheeks.”
“I felt shocked and didn’t understand what had just happened, but I knew I felt embarrassed and weird about his kissing me,” Vill said. “I am Italian and in my family, family members kiss. Strangers do not kiss, especially upon meeting someone for the first time.”
When he was leaving her home, Vill said, Cuomo “stopped, he turned to me and said, ‘You are beautiful.’ That made me feel even more uncomfortable. I felt as though he was coming onto me in my own home. The governor and his staff proceeded to view the damages outside of the house. I purposely did not follow because I felt uncomfortable given what had just happened in my living room.”
Vill said that after Cuomo examined the damages to Vill’s home, he circled back to the front of the house where she was standing.
“He then approached me, he took my hand and said, ‘Is there anything else you want?'”
“I didn’t know how to respond,” she said. “He then leaned down on top of me and while still holding one of my hands, he forcibly grabbed my face with his other big hand and kissed my cheek, again in a very aggressive manner. I felt like I was being manhandled, especially because he was holding my face and he was kissing my cheek again. I could not use my other hand to stop him because he did it so quickly, and I also was holding my dog with my other hand.”
Vill said that the way Cuomo looked at her and his body language made her “very uncomfortable” and that she felt he was acting “in a highly flirtatious and inappropriate manner, especially in front of my family and neighbors.”
Allred said earlier in the news conference that Vill wanted to report Cuomo’s actions but that members of her family, some of whom witnessed the alleged interaction, discouraged her from doing so out of concern that Cuomo may retaliate against her.
“They feared that if she made what happened to her public that the governor might use his power to retaliate against her and her family,” Allred said. “For that reason, Sherry made the difficult decision to remain silent. Recently, however, Sherry decided that the people of New York deserve to know the truth and that Governor Cuomo should be held accountable for what he has done. For that reason, she has decided to break her silent and overcome her fear by speaking truth to power.”
Allred said that Vill is willing to cooperate with New York Attorney General Tish James’ investigation into the allegations and that she and Vill would contact James’ office after the presser. She added that many of Vill’s family members support her decision to come forward, and that those who witnessed her interaction with Cuomo “also felt that what the governor did was very surprising and not appropriate.”
Nine other women have accused Cuomo of making inappropriate comments or physical advances toward them, including Alyssa McGrath, who is currently an aide in Cuomo’s office, and former Cuomo aides Lindsey Boylan, Charlotte Bennett, and Ana Liss.
Jessica Blakeman and Valerie Bauman, two reporters who previously covered Albany, have also alleged that there was “rampant” sexual harassment in the state’s capital and accused Cuomo of harassment.
In the wake of the allegations, nearly every Democrat from New York’s congressional delegation and dozens of state lawmakers have called for Cuomo’s resignation. The New York State Assembly is conducting an impeachment inquiry into the matter, and the state attorney general’s office is also investigating it.
The governor initially apologized but said he would not resign until the investigations concluded, and later said the accusations were motivated by “cancel culture.”
Cuomo is also facing backlash amid news that the FBI is investigating whether his administration illegally concealed the full scope of nursing home deaths in New York. And last week, multiple reports said that he procured coronavirus tests for his friends and family members — including his brother and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo — in the early days of the pandemic, when most Americans did not have access to testing.
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