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'Can I kiss you?': Third woman accuses governor Cuomo of sexual harassment

Anna Ruch, who has worked with Obama and Biden's campaign, said she had never met Cuomo before the incident.

'Can I kiss you?': Third woman accuses governor Cuomo of sexual harassment
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 6: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a COVID-19 briefing on July 6, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Trigger warning: This story contains descriptions of sexual harassment that some readers may find disturbing.

A third woman has now come forward to accuse Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. Anna Ruch, a 33-year-old woman who worked on the campaigns of Obama and Biden, said Andrew Cuomo misbehaved with her and asked if he could kiss her at a New York City wedding reception in September 2019. Ruch said the Governor had touched her lower back and put his hands on his face after she tried to remove his hands from her back. "Can I kiss you," he reportedly told her, reported The New York Times. Ruch confirmed that the pair had never met before for him to even consider taking the liberty of behaving the way he did. Anna Ruch said her first impression of him wasn't so bad after the governor gave a great toast to the bride and groom. Anna Ruch thanked him for his words when she met him later at the reception. 


"Can I Kiss you"
She was shocked by his response as he put his hand on her lower back. She removed his hands from her back, making it evident that she was uncomfortable with the unwanted touching. He told her she was being aggressive and placed his hands on her cheeks. He then asked her if he could kiss her, which was also heard by a friend of Ruch's who was nearby. Ruch pulled away as Cuomo moved closer. “I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” said Ruch. “I turned my head away and didn’t have words in that moment.” Her recollection of the incident is also backed up by a photograph of Cuomo holding her cheeks in both his hands and her friend's corroboration of the incident. Ruch said she felt “uncomfortable and embarrassed” about the incident.


"The Governor wanted to sleep with me"
Ruch's accusations come on the back of two former aides of the New York Governor accusing him of sexual harassment in the workplace. One of his former aides, Charlotte Bennett, 25, told The New York Times that the governor had asked questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous and if she had ever had sex with older men. Bennett was an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until she left in November. Bennett said he made remarks suggesting he wanted to sleep with her. “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” said Bennett. 


"Let’s play strip poker"
Lindsey Boylan, Cuomo's former personal aide, was the first one to make accusations of sexual harassment against the New York Governor. Boylan detailed the sexual harassment in a personal essay. She stated that he had harassed her on several occasions between 2016 to 2018, even going as far as planting an unsolicited kiss on the lips at his Manhattan office. “As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips,” wrote Boylan. “I was in shock, but I kept walking.” Boylan said her boss at Empire State Development had informed her that “the governor had a ‘crush’ on me,” before adding that he went “out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs.” She also accused his senior staff of keeping tabs on her whereabouts. Bennett backed up Boylan, writing on Twitter, that they should read her account to know “what it’s like to work for the Cuomo” administration.


Andrew Cuomo addressed the allegations and attempted to defend himself. “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,” said Cuomo in a statement, reported The Huffington Post. “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.” He went on to add that at work, “sometimes I think I am being playful, ” before adding that he means “no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.” 

The New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced its formally proceeding with an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo. James confirmed she had received the referral she needed from the governor's office. "This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously," said Letitia James, reported NBC News.

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