Lindsey Boylan, a former aide in the New York governor’s office, detailed how Gov. Andrew Cuomo allegedly exploited their professional relationship as an opportunity to sexually harass her.
“I’m compelled to tell my story because no woman should feel forced to hide their experiences of workplace intimidation, harassment and humiliation — not by the Governor or anyone else,” Boylan wrote. “I expect the Governor and his top aides will attempt to further disparage me, just as they’ve done with Assemblymember Kim. They’d lose their jobs if they didn’t protect him. That’s how his administration works. I know because I was a part of it.”
In Boylan’s account of the alleged sexual harassment, she was working as chief of staff at the state economic development agency in 2016 when Cuomo allegedly communicated to her boss that he had a “crush on her.” Months after that incident, the director of the governor’s office reportedly informed Boylan, who shared screenshots of an email exchange, that Cuomo “suggested I look up images of Lisa Shields — his rumored former girlfriend — because ‘we could be sisters; and I was ‘the better-looking sister.’” Cuomo also reportedly called Boylan “Lisa” around his office, which she said was “degrading.”
“I had complained to friends that the Governor would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs. His senior staff began keeping tabs on my whereabouts,” Boylan wrote.
Other similarly uncomfortable and inappropriate situations, Boylan said, unfolded as the years went on, such as Cuomo’s request that the aides all play “strip poker.” At one point, the governor even allegedly isolated Boylan in his office, making a reference to former President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky’s affair while he talked with her alone. He also gifted her a rose on Valentine’s Day and put a signed photograph of himself on her “closed-door office while I was out.”
“These were not-so-subtle reminders of the Governor exploiting the power dynamic with the women around him,” Boylan wrote.
Due to Cuomo’s alleged behavior, Boylan expressed hesitancy to take a promotion to deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, but she finally accepted when she was told she could keep her old office on a different floor from Cuomo. Boylan said she tried to dismiss his behavior as “only words,” but that things “changed after a one-on-one briefing with the Governor to update him on economic and infrastructure projects. We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking,” Boylan said.
After she saw how Cuomo’s “pervasive harassment extended beyond just me” and the governor’s team dismissed her concerns after the alleged kissing incident, Boylan sent in her resignation in 2018.
“It was all so normalized — particularly by Melissa DeRosa and other top women around him — that only now do I realize how insidious his abuse was,” Boylan noted, referencing the top aide who recently confessed that the state’s top office purposefully hid the nursing home COVID-19 death toll out of fear of a federal investigation.
Boylan first shared her experience on Twitter in December, accusing the governor of inappropriate behavior targeting her “for years” under the watch of other people in his office.
“I know I am not the only woman,” Boylan said.
Not knowing what to expect what’s the most upsetting part aside from knowing that no one would do a damn thing even when they saw it.
And I *know* I am not the only woman.
— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) December 13, 2020
Shortly after her post went viral, Boylan said the governor’s “loyalists” attempted to “smear” her by spreading “a supposed confidential personnel file” which she had never seen and asking about her around town. Cuomo’s office denied the allegations made by Boylan in December, saying, “There is simply no truth to these claims.”