Lindsey Boylan, the first woman to publicly accuse the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, of sexual harassment, said the workplace culture in the statehouse was “toxic, especially for women” in her first extensive interview about the alleged harassment.
Boylan first accused Cuomo of harassment by tweeting about it late last year, and then in an essay online last month.
In an interview with the New Yorker published this week, Boylan said she initially avoided interviews with reporters because “having someone dissect my trauma is not something I wanted”.
Several other women have since come forward with similar complaints against the governor, including unwanted advances and groping.
Cuomo has denied ever touching anyone inappropriately, but admits that he may have made people feel uncomfortable. He has also resisted calls to resign that have come from increasing numbers of top Democrats including the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand and representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The New York state attorney general, Letitia James, and the state assembly are investigating the claims. Joe Biden said Cuomo should step down if the investigations confirm the allegations and in that case could face criminal prosecution.
Boylan worked for New York’s government from 2015 to 2018. She had tweeted allegations of harassment by Cuomo and in the New York statehouse, in the state capital in Albany, throughout 2020.
Last month, she published an essay that said Cuomo went out of his way to touch her on her legs, lower back and arms and eventually kissed her.
The New Yorker interview with Ronan Farrow is the first time she has spoken at length with a reporter about her harassment claims.
In the article, Boylan repeated her earlier claims of inappropriate touching and said that after a press conference, Cuomo’s puppy jumped up and down near her, prompting Cuomo to joke, that if he was a dog, he would try to “mount” her as well.
“I remember being grossed out but also, like, what a dumb third-grade thing to say,” Boylan told the New Yorker. “I just shrugged it off.”
The New Yorker article also details how a team of Cuomo aides reportedly had a campaign to discredit Boylan as her comments gained more attention online.
This allegedly includes leaking a personnel file that was reported on by the Associated Press and other news outlets and contained complaints about Boylan by several women, accusing her of bullying. Boylan told the New Yorker she had not seen the files and was unaware of the allegations inside.
Farrow told ABC’s Good Morning America show on Friday: “This matches more emerging data in multiple stories that shows a pattern of the governor weaponizing any available information through his aides and through intermediaries in New York politics and then getting those claims into the press.”
The New York Times on Tuesday reported that people tied to the governor had circulated a letter attacking Boylan’s credibility, seeking former staff members to sign it. The letter was never released.