A former campaign worker on Wednesday accused city comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer of sexual assault and harassment when she worked on one of his prior runs for office. Jean Kim told reporters that Stringer groped and kissed her without consent during his 2001 campaign to be public advocate, when, Kim said, she was an intern.
“During this campaign, I traveled back and forth to campaign events with him, and Scott Stringer repeatedly groped me, put his hands on my thighs and between my legs, and demanded to know why I wouldn’t have sex with him,” said Kim, who called on Stringer to drop out from the mayor’s race and to resign as comptroller.
Kim alleged that during one conversation, Stringer put his hand down her pants and “groped me inside my underwear,” according to the New York Post. “I pulled away and tried to avoid him. He warned me not to tell anyone about it,” she said.
After that incident, Kim said she avoided Stringer for days and that when he next saw her, he said he could make her the “first Asian district leader on the Upper West Side” if she “proved herself” to him.
Other times inside taxis to and from events, Kim said, he put his hands on her legs and asked her, “Why won’t you fuck me?”
Hours after Kim spoke, Stringer held his own press conference and denied the allegations alongside his wife, Elyse Buxbaum. Saying women must be heard, Stringer nevertheless denied the charge: “This isn’t me. I didn’t do this. I’m going to fight for the truth because these allegations are false.”
Stringer pushed back on Kim’s characterization as an unpaid intern, saying instead that she was a “peer” on the campaign and that they had a consensual relationship. “We had an on-and-off relationship over a few months. I was 40, and she was 31,” Stringer said.
Buxbaum took to the podium herself, revealing that she is a survivor of sexual abuse. She said that if “even a fraction” of what her husband is being accused of were true, she wouldn’t stand by him.
The allegation comes as Stringer tries to break out of third place as the self-styled progressive hope for mayor. In his corner have been young progressive lawmakers, such as New York State Assembly members Yuh-Line Niou, Alessandra Biaggi, and Julia Salazar, who issued a joint statement that read, “As survivors of childhood sexual assault, we believe survivors.”
The three women, who previously endorsed Stringer for mayor, added, “Our commitment to a harassment free government, workplace, and society is steadfast, and our zero tolerance standard regarding sexual assault applies to abusers like Andrew Cuomo, if not more so, to our friends.”
Andrew Yang put out a joint statement with his wife Evelyn Yang who has been open about her own experiences as a survivor of sexual assault, saying to Jean, “We heard you and we believe you.” Eric Adams said that women must be heard, adding, “We must ensure that anyone who believes they were harassed, assaulted or treated in an unacceptable manner can come forward safely and be heard.” Dianne Morales said in a press release of Kim: “I stand with her, and her demands for justice.”
Several of Stringer’s opponents were more pointed: Maya Wiley released a statement calling for Stringer to “immediately account for this abuse” and Kathryn Garcia called on him him to “stand by his own policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment and drop out of the mayoral race.” Shaun Donovan also called for Stringer to drop out and resign.
Lindsey Boylan, a candidate for Manhattan borough president who has accused Governor Cuomo of sexual harassment, came out in support of Kim. “New York Democrats must build a better world from our ranks and hold our own accountable. That means Scott Stringer must resign as comptroller and drop out of the race for New York City mayor,” Boylan said.
Back in March, Stringer weighed in on mounting accusations against Cuomo, saying he should resign “for the good of New Yorkers.”