A current Cuomo aide claims the governor has harassed her.
According to a report released Friday, a current aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused him of attempting to conceal an accusation that he groped one of her coworkers while also sharing her own troubling encounters with her boss.
The anonymous accuser told Alyssa McGrath, according to the New York Times, how Cuomo touched her breast under her blouse inside the Executive Mansion late last year.
McGrath allegedly said, “She froze when he started doing that stuff to her.”
Cuomo advised the woman not to talk about the alleged incident with McGrath, she said, adding that he is aware that they are friends who talk and text on a regular basis.
McGrath said, “He explicitly ordered her not to tell me.”
McGrath, 33, also detailed her own weird experiences with Cuomo, 63, claiming that he complimented her necklace and told her in Italian that she was beautiful.
Cuomo also inquired about McGrath’s lack of a wedding ring and the status of her divorce, according to McGrath.
McGrath didn’t say Cuomo kissed her sexually, but she did say she felt his acts were sexual harassment.
McGrath explained, “He has a way of making you feel very relaxed around him, almost like you’re his mate.”
“But then you walk away from the experience or discussion thinking to yourself, ‘I can’t believe I just had that conversation with New York’s governor.’”
McGrath is the first current state employee to publicly accuse Cuomo of wrongdoing, following a string of complaints that have sparked widespread calls for Cuomo’s resignation, as well as an independent investigation by Attorney General Letitia James and an impeachment investigation by the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.
According to the Albany Times Union, who heard about it from a person familiar with what she told them, the woman who was reportedly groped told her story to others.
Cuomo’s acting attorney, Beth Garvey, said last week that state authorities had forwarded the case to the Albany Police Department for a potential criminal investigation.
It is still the most serious charge leveled against Cuomo.
Cuomo said during a March 3 news conference that “I never touched someone improperly,” an assertion McGrath said enraged her.
She expressed her displeasure by saying, “It makes me very angry to hear him talk about this and absolutely refute all accusations.”
“And I have no doubt that every single one of these accusers is telling the truth.”
According to her LinkedIn biography, McGrath has served as an executive assistant in Cuomo’s office since May 2018.
According to the Empire Center for Public Policy’s SeeThrough NY website, she received $64,383 in fiscal 2019, when her base salary was $60,000.
McGrath does not work for Cuomo, but emails indicate that she and the woman who was groped were often called to the Capitol building or the Executive Mansion, Cuomo’s highly fortified official residence, on weekends, according to the New York Times.
The messages are said to have come from a top scheduling official in Cuomo’s office who has not been named.
“Hi gals,” one note, dated Feb. 29, 2020, said, “Who can spend a little while with him when he gets back on the book signing project?” another, dated Feb. 29, 2020, said, “Who can spend a little while with him when he gets back on the book signing project?”
It’s not clear which book is listed in that letter.
Cuomo’s book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was published in October by Crown Publishing Company, for which he reportedly received a seven-figure advance.
Crown stopped advertising the book earlier this month because of a federal investigation into the Cuomo administration’s management of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic.
They addressed their plans to fly to Florida for vacation while working with Cuomo in the Capitol on what turned out to be the Saturday before the state’s first reported case of the coronavirus.
McGrath, who has a small boy, was divorced at the time, but her coworker was married, and Cuomo asked if she wanted to meet men and “mingle,” according to the New York Times.
Both women laughed off the comment, but McGrath claims Cuomo called them “mingle mamas” for the rest of the day.
Cuomo started making McGrath uncomfortable shortly after she was hired, according to the Times, and she described an incident in which she was summoned to his office in the Executive Mansion in early 2019.
Cuomo asked McGrath, who is of Italian ancestry, if she spoke the language, and then said something in it, which she later relayed to her parents to translate.
“It was complimenting me on my beauty,” she said.
She was summoned to Cuomo’s Capitol office a short time later to take dictation.
She explained, “I put my head down waiting for him to start speaking, but he didn’t start speaking.” “So I lifted my eyes to see what was happening. And he was staring down the front of my shirt.”
Cuomo then made a “subtle reference” to the necklace “under my shirt,” as she put it.
“My face became incredibly hot,” she explained.
McGrath also described a 2019 workplace Christmas party at which Cuomo “kissed me on the forehead” and posed for a picture with her and a coworker in which “he is holding our sides very tightly.”
Cuomo later asked the coworker to pose for a picture with him on New Year’s Eve, with their faces almost touching, and send it to McGrath, she said.
McGrath believes Cuomo intended to “make me jealous.”
“From the beginning, we were told that was a typical step of his,” she said.
“Can you tell me who the girl of the week was? “Who was the month’s girl?”
“The governor has welcomed men and women with embraces and kisses on the cheek, forehead, or hand,” Cuomo’s counsel, Rita Glavin, told the New York Times. He has, in fact, posed for pictures with his arm around their necks. Yes, he speaks in Italian, using phrases like ‘ciao bella.’
“None of this is remarkable,” Glavin continued, “although it may be old-fashioned.” He has said unequivocally that he has never made sexual advances or kissed someone inappropriately.”
Mariann Wang, McGrath’s counsel, replied, “The governor’s deflections are not believable.”
“This wasn’t all friendly banter,” says the narrator. Ms. McGrath is familiar with the term ‘ciao Bella.’ Wang expressed his view.
“’I wouldn’t call my parents to find out what that word means,’ she says. ‘I’m familiar with the definition of that word.’