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18 Feb, 2022 20:06

Former governor sued for sexual harassment

Andrew Cuomo faces a civil suit over allegations made by a former member of his security detail
Former governor sued for sexual harassment

A US state trooper is suing former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for sexual harassment, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday. The plaintiff is the first of 11 women alleging misconduct by the governor to bring a civil case against him, after prosecutors declined to press criminal charges last year.

Identified in the lawsuit as ‘Trooper 1’, the woman was plucked from her job as a New York State Trooper in 2017 to serve on Cuomo’s security detail. Once on board, she claims she was repeatedly harassed and inappropriately touched by the Democrat.

“He commented on her appearance (‘why don’t you wear a dress?’); wanted to kiss her ('[c]an I kiss you?’); asked her to find him a girlfriend who could ‘handle pain;' and steered their conversations towards sex ('[w]hy would you want to get married? . . . your sex drive goes down,’” reads an excerpt from the suit published by Politico.

The suit also accuses Cuomo of inappropriate contact, and claims that the then-governor pressed the trooper into accepting an unwanted kiss, while acknowledging that such behavior was against the rules.

The allegations in the suit are not new. They were first laid out in a report by New York Attorney General Letitia James last August. James’ report found “credible” evidence that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, including ‘Trooper 1’, but multiple county prosecutors declined to file charges due to what they said was a lack of evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

‘Trooper 1’ is seeking an undisclosed sum of money from the former governor in the civil suit. Melissa DeRosa, a former aide to Cuomo, and the New York State Police are also accused in the lawsuit of covering up Cuomo’s alleged misdeeds.

Although Cuomo resigned shortly after James’ report was released, he denied any misconduct, and his team accused the AG of orchestrating a political hit. Indeed, James announced a run for governor that October, but withdrew her candidacy several weeks later, and said that she will instead run for reelection as attorney general.

Cuomo’s spokesman, Rich Azzopardi, said on Thursday that the lawsuit is based on James’ “proven fraud of a report,” and said that the trooper’s legal team have been “widely known to use the press to extort settlements on behalf of anonymous claimants.”

Paul Schectman, an attorney for DeRosa, said that the only interactions his client had with the trooper amounted to saying “hello and goodbye,” adding “It is not a viable case anywhere in America and is beyond frivolous.”