ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Another woman came forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday. High-profile women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred held a press conference at 2:30 p.m. with the new accuser.
The accuser is Sherry Vill, 55, a married resident of Greece in Monroe County. She expressed her shock during a time when Cuomo allegedly grabbed her face and kissed her in front of her home “in what [she] felt was a highly sexual manner. [She] was not expecting that at all.”
According to Vill and Allred, she was intimated into silence by Cuomo’s physical and figurative power. She allegedly broke her silence when she decided New Yorkers deserve the truth and that Cuomo should be held accountable.
Vill shared her account. She said the governor and state officials visited her home following a flooding event. NEWS10’s sister station in Rochester covered the natural disaster in 2017 and spoke with Vill at the time.
Cuomo went into the Vill house with sherry, her husband, her son, and staff and town officials. She said he kissed her two times on the face in a manner she described as embarrassing, weird, uncomfortable, flirtatious, sexual, and aggressive.
The governor has frequently cited sociable Italian culture as the rationale behind greetings that include kisses. “I am Italian,” said Vill when sharing her experience. While she maintains that kissing is common among family members in Italian families, she also says, “Strangers do not kiss,” she said.
“Is there anything else you want?” Vill said Cuomo asked as he leaned down on top of her, holding one of her hands. She said she felt like she was being manhandled when he “forcibly grabbed [her] face with his other big hand and kissed [her] cheek again in a very aggressive manner.”
According to Vill, the governor’s office reached out to her within days to invite her to an event. She says she was contacted directly, and that the invitation left out her husband and family.
Soon after the kiss, photos snapped of Vill and Cuomo at the time even made the rounds on social media. She said neighbors and customers teased her, asked if she was the governor’s new girlfriend.
Allred said she was not suggesting Cuomo should be criminally prosecuted “for what he did to Sherry.”
Allred said she would contact New York’s Attorney General, Letitia James, immediately after the press conference to cooperate with her ongoing investigation. She said the focus is not on criminal or civil claims, or on the impeachment inquiry now in the State Assembly.
Allred had no comment on whether she would be representing more Cuomo accusers. She did say that it’s insulting to women to suggest the accusations are part of a political hit job.
Photographs and documents will be included here once forwarded from Allred’s office.
A few hours after the press conference, Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin sent the following response:
“During times of crisis, the Governor has frequently sought to comfort New Yorkers with hugs and kisses. As I have said before, the Governor has greeted both men and women with hugs, a kiss on the cheek, forehead, or hand for the past forty years. I encourage everyone to look at other photographs from his visit to Greece, NY that day.
Nothing described at today’s press conference was unique in that regard. Three other related points concerning Gloria Alfred’s press conference: (1) the July 19, 2017 letter from the Governor that Ms. Allred displayed was a nearly identical follow-up form letter sent to more than 30 people that the Governor visited to support and assist following the Lake Ontario flooding, and those form letters were signed with an autopen; (2) it is a practice of the Governor’s office to send signed photos to people he meets with after events, and those photos are regularly signed with an autopen; (3) it is common for staffers to contact constituents after events and invite them to a future event on a related topic.”Rita Glavin