A tenth woman has come forward accusing New York governor Andrew Cuomo of inappropriate sexual conduct. On Monday, Sherry Vill said that the governor kissed her without her consent during a trip he took to her home in western New York to survey flood damage in 2017.
Vill alleged that, after he entered her house, the “governor looked at me, approached me, took my hand and pulled me to him,” at which point he “leaned down over me and kissed my cheek.” She added that she was holding her dog in her arms when it happened, and that she “thought he was going to pet my dog. But instead he went to squeeze between the dog and mine and kiss me on the other cheek in what I felt was a highly sexual manner.”
The announcement came at a press conference organized by Vill’s attorney, the activist lawyer Gloria Allred, who has represented women who have accused Donald Trump and Roy Moore of sexual misconduct. Vill, who was 52 at the time of Cuomo’s visit, said that the “whole thing was so strange and inappropriate and still makes me nervous and afraid because of his power and position.” Allred also shared a photo of the encounter, in which Cuomo — who was visiting in an official capacity as the governor — grabbed Vill with both hands and kissed her on the cheek.
Vill recalled Cuomo saying at the time: “That’s what Italians do, kiss both cheeks.” It was not a justification she accepted: “I am Italian, and in my family, family members kiss. Strangers do not kiss, especially upon meeting someone for the first time.” In a statement provided on Monday, Cuomo’s private attorney repeated the line, stating that governor “has greeted both men and women with hugs, a kiss on the cheek, forehead or hand for the past forty years.” Vill also said that a Cuomo staffer called to invite her to an event days after the visit. “Notably, [the staffer] did not say ‘my husband and I,’ or ‘my family and I,’” she said. “Only specifically me.”
Since December, nine other women, including several aides, have accused the governor of sexual harassment or misconduct. Despite widespread calls for his resignation and multiple investigations into his behavior and his office’s alleged cover-up of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes last year, Cuomo has made it clear he does not intend to resign. But new developments regarding his conduct or abuses of power continue to develop as he tries to move forward with his agenda. Last week, multiple reports emerged that Cuomo had secured special access to COVID testing last March for his family. Those allegations came to light shortly after lawmakers agreed on a proposal to legalize weed in New York, an announcement that was considered a PR win for the governor. And on Monday, Vill’s press conference came hours after the governor announced that all adults in New York could sign up for a vaccination appointment by next week.