Anna Ruch met Governor Andrew Cuomo at a crowded wedding reception in 2019. After he had toasted the newlyweds, she wanted to thank him for his kind words about her friends.
Mr. Cuomo put his hand on Ms. Ruch’s bare lower back, she said in an interview on Monday.
When she removed his hand with her own, Ms. Ruch recalled, the governor remarked that she seemed “aggressive” and placed his hands on her cheeks. He asked if he could kiss her, loudly enough for a friend standing nearby to hear.
The encounter was documented by Ms. Ruch’s friend using her phone.
“I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” said Ms. Ruch, whose recollection was corroborated by the friend, contemporaneous text messages and photographs from the event. “I turned my head away and didn’t have words in that moment.”
Ms. Ruch’s example is distinct from those of the former aides. She has never been employed by the governor or the state. But her experience reinforces the escalating concerns and accusations about Mr. Cuomo’s personal conduct .
In response to the times report, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) tweeted out a link to the Times story and called on Cuomo to resign.
When asked for a response, Cuomo’s office pointed to a statement earlier released on Sunday night in which he acknowledged that somethings he had said “have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”
His accusers were not quiet, however: Charlotte Bennett, a former aide who accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment, issued her first public statement since outlining her claims in a New York Times article, saying that the apology and attempted explanation issued by the governor on Sunday night was woefully inadequate.
“These are not the actions of someone who simply feels misunderstood,” Ms. Bennett wrote. “They are the actions of an individual who wields his power to avoid justice.”
Ms. Bennett also called on other women, if they had similar stories about Mr. Cuomo, to come forward.