A third woman in less than one week has come forward Monday evening to accuse scandal-plagued New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of inappropriate sexual behavior, saying he made unwanted advances by grabbing and kissing her at a 2019 wedding.
Anna Ruch told the New York Times that Cuomo during the wedding reception was making unwanted advances toward her and planted an unsolicited kiss on her cheek.
“He said, ‘Can I kiss you?'” Ruch said, according to The Times. “I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed.”
The allegation comes after two former state staffers accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. However, unlike the two former aides, Ruch is a former member of the Obama administration and the 2020 Biden campaign.
Ruch recalled how she met the governor in September 2019 at the crowded wedding reception where she thanked Cuomo for his toast to the newlyweds. Within moments of being introduced, Ruch said that the governor almost immediately began putting his hand on her exposed lower back as she was wearing an open-back dress.
The Times published a single photo of Ruch and Cuomo at the wedding, showing the governor placing his hands around Ruch’s face in which she appears uncomfortable and scared.
“I promptly removed his hand with my hand, which I would have thought was a clear enough indicator that I was not wanting him to touch me,” Ruch said.
However, Cuomo didn’t get the hint and notice that Ruch seemed “aggressive,” prompting him to place his hands on her cheeks and allegedly asked if he could kiss her. The governor said it so loudly that Ruch’s friend to be able to hear Cuomo’s request for a kiss.
“It’s the act of impunity that strikes me,” Ruch told the Times. “I didn’t have a choice in that matter. I didn’t have a choice in his physical dominance over me at that moment. And that’s what infuriates me. And even with what I could do, removing his hand from my lower back, even doing that was not clear enough.”
She went on telling the publication that she was so shocked as she was pulling away and had to ask her friend if Cuomo’s lips had actually touched her face. Ruch was told by her friend that the governor kissed her cheek.
“It was when my friend looked at me and said, ‘Are you okay?’ with such genuine concern in her face that I realized how obviously inappropriate it was,” Ruch said. “Not only to me but to those around me as well.”
Ruch said she had hoped to speak with Cuomo that night after regaining her poise to call out his behavior, but could not find him. “I would have rather just said it that night. I wanted to say, ‘That wasn’t okay.'”
A Cuomo spokesman instead of directly addressing Ruch’s account, referred to a statement the governor released Sunday night, in which he apologized if his “jokes” were misinterpreted as “unwanted flirtation,” in response to the two sexual harassment claims leveled against him. The embattled governor also said he was sorry the interactions “may have been insensitive or too personal,” while maintaining that he “never inappropriately touched anybody.”
“To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that,” Cuomo said in the statement said.
After news of Ruch’s account broke, Charlotte Bennett tweeted, “I stand with Anna Ruch. Anna — I hear you, I see you. I’m so sorry. His inappropriate and aggressive behavior cannot be justified or normalized. Thank you for your courage and strength. Here for you always.”
“This doesn’t make me feel validated. It makes me feel sick. I feel nauseous thinking about Anna’s experience. I am sending her love and light,” Boylan tweeted. “Charlotte and I are with you, Anna.
Both Bennett and Boylan are former aides to the governor and have accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior within days of each other. Boylan, a former deputy secretary for economic development, and a special adviser last Wednesday shared several disturbing interactions with Cuomo that spanned over several years. In the bombshell essay revelation, Boylan who is running for Manhattan Borough President accused Cuomo of going “out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms, and legs,” forcibly kissing her on the lips during a one-on-one meeting in his office, and suggesting that they “play strip poker” during a plane ride.
The turmoil for Cuomo who was a media darling and soared to national prominence began to take a huge blow after Bennett came forward Saturday night with her own accusations that were published in The New York Times. Bennett, a 25-year-old former executive assistant and health policy adviser accused Cuomo of making a series of inappropriate “comments she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship.” The series of incidents occurred during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic.
After resisting giving up an element of control over the investigation in a series of extended back-and-forth between Cuomo and New York Attorney General Letitia James, the governor finally surrendered and granted the state’s attorney general office the sole authority to appoint an independent investigator with subpoena authority.