New York resident Sherry Vill has come forward accusing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of sexual misconduct, saying that he kissed her on both cheeks in “a highly sexual manner” without her consent.
At a press conference Monday, famed women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred said in a statement that Vill, 55, received “unwelcome and un-consented to physical contact” from Cuomo when he grabbed her face and kissed her in 2017.
Vill said that in May 2017, the governor came to visit her home in a suburb of Rochester, which had been damaged by flooding. Cuomo was visiting the neighborhood to survey damages and staff asked if he could visit her home.
Inside her house, the governor “pulled me to him, he leaned down over me and kissed my cheek … in what I felt was a highly sexual manner,” Vill said, saying she felt “shocked,” as well as “embarrassed.” Later the governor again “forcibly grabbed my face and kissed my cheek,” she said. Allred displayed a photo of Cuomo holding Vill’s face and kissing her on her cheek.
The governor told Vill that “that’s what Italians do: kiss both cheeks,” but as Vill put it Tuesday: “I am Italian. In my family, family members kiss. Strangers do not kiss.”
Vill said that the governor also told her she was beautiful. “I felt as though he was coming onto me in my own home,” Vill said.
“I know the difference between an innocent gesture and a sexual one. His actions were overly sexual, highly inappropriate,” Vill said of the governor’s unwelcome advances. She added that she felt “like I was being manhandled, especially because he was holding my face.”
“I am still afraid of him but I am no longer willing to remain silent,” Vill said Tuesday. Allred added that Vill was previously afraid to come forward because the governor is powerful, but was sharing her story because she believed the governor “should be held accountable.”
Cuomo’s office directed HuffPost’s request for comment to his lawyer, who did not immediately respond.
Vill is the ninth person to publicly accuse the governor of sexual misconduct, harassment or assault.
Two other women — one former staffer and one woman who met Cuomo at a wedding — also said he had kissed them without consent or had made an unwelcome attempt to do so.
The governor is currently facing an investigation into the multiple allegations.
The most serious accusation against Cuomo is from an unnamed woman — a current aide, according to The New York Times — who said Cuomo reached under her blouse and groped her last year at the governor’s mansion. Other former aides have said that Cuomo made inappropriate remarks to them at work.
Several members of New York’s delegation to the House of Representatives, both the state’s U.S. senators, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have called on Cuomo to resign. He has refused to do so.