A New York woman claims Gov. Andrew Cuomo “willfully ignored” multiple complaints of sexual harassment she brought up against one of his aides, according to a federal lawsuit.
Lisa Marie Cater named Cuomo as a defendant in the suit, alleging he ignored complaints that Sam Hoyt, a former state lawmaker and top economic adviser to Cuomo, forcefully kissed and groped her, made unwanted visits to her home and sent her nude photos.
“Defendant Andrew Cuomo had direct knowledge of some or all of the discriminatory and unlawful events which transpired and failed to launch any investigation and/or prohibit the unlawful conduct which was well within his purview and authority,” the suit states.
In the suit, Cater, 51, states she first met Hoyt at a fundraising event in 2008. He later helped her find an apartment and a job at the Department of Motor Vehicles and used his political power to “seduce, manipulate, sexually harass and sexually assault the Plaintiff without any repercussions.”
Cater said Hoyt began “stalking her” after she told him where she lived in and in 2015 showed up at her house and “forcefully asserted himself against” her when she opened the door. He proceeded to unlawfully grope and kiss her, the suit states.
He also regularly sent harassing phone calls, texts and emails including a nude photo of himself with the message “Do you think I look tan?”
Cater said the image made her “shake uncontrollably” and added to her “symptoms of depression and anxiety.”
The suit alleges Hoyt ignored Cater’s pleas to be left alone and repeatedly threatened her job security. Cater then sought resolution by reaching out to Cuomo’s office through phone calls, an email and a Facebook message, but received no response.
Cater then decided to confront Hoyt, who agreed to meet her in a park where she told him she would no longer accept the abuse even if it meant the loss of her job and apartment.
“Hoyt then groped the plaintiff’s vagina and crotch area, squeezing as hard as he could and hurting the plaintiff. Defendant Hoyt then said, ‘You know this is what I want!'” the suit states.
The suit states Cater told Hoyt she feared she might need to be institutionalized due to deteriorating mental health when Hoyt offered her a $50,000 settlement in exchange for her silence.
An official in Cuomo’s office said Cater’s case was routed to the governor’s counsel’s office and under investigation by the Governor’s Office for Employee Relations by November 2016.
“The state launched three separate investigations in this matter and any assertion to the contrary is patently and demonstrably false, and as such, we expect this matter to be summarily dismissed,” Alphonso David, Cuomo’s counsel said.
David also said Cater stopped cooperating while the Inspector General’s Office was investigating the complaint.
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