- Another woman came forward Monday to accuse Gov. Andrew Cuomo of unwanted physical contact.
- Sherry Vill, a New York resident, said Cuomo kissed her without consent outside her home in 2017.
- She said she felt "shocked," "embarrassed," and "weird about his kissing me."
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A woman named Sherry Vill came forward on Monday to accuse New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of making unwanted physical advances toward her. After describing the interactions, she said Cuomo's actions were "overly sexual, highly inappropriate, and disrespectful to me and my family."
Vill, 55, a New York resident, is the 10th woman to accuse Cuomo of misconduct. Her lawyer, Gloria Allred, said at a news conference that Cuomo grabbed Vill's face in 2017 and kissed her without consent at her home.
Vill, who lives in a suburb of Rochester, said it happened in May 2017, when Cuomo visited her neighborhood after a flood to survey damages and hold a press conference.
"I was asked by a staffer if I would allow the governor to come into, view our damages, and I agreed," Vill said. "Governor Cuomo went into my house with my husband, son, along with his staff and some town officials. I came in shortly afterward, and when I walked in, I said to the governor, 'Do you think that we have to live like this?'
"That's when the governor looked at me, approached me, took my hand, and pulled me to him," Vill continued. "He leaned down over me and kissed my cheek. I was holding my small dog in my arms, and I thought he was going to pet my dog, but instead he wedged his face between the dog and mine and kissed me on the other cheek."
Vill went on to say that she found the interaction "highly sexual" and that she "wasn't expecting that at all." She said that afterward the governor told her, "That's what Italians do: kiss both cheeks."
"I felt shocked and didn't understand what had just happened, but I knew I felt embarrassed and weird about his kissing me," Vill said. "I am Italian, and in my family, family members kiss. Strangers do not kiss, especially upon meeting someone for the first time."
When he was leaving her home, Vill said, Cuomo "stopped, he turned to me and said, 'You are beautiful.'"
"That made me feel even more uncomfortable," Vill said. "I felt as though he was coming on to me in my own home. The governor and his staff proceeded to view the damages outside of the house. I purposely did not follow because I felt uncomfortable given what had just happened in my living room."
Vill said that after Cuomo examined the damages to Vill's home, he circled back to the front of the house where she was standing.
"He then approached me, he took my hand and said, 'Is there anything else you want?'
"I didn't know how to respond," she said. "He then leaned down on top of me and while still holding one of my hands he forcibly grabbed my face with his other big hand and kissed my cheek, again in a very aggressive manner. I felt like I was being manhandled, especially because he was holding my face and he was kissing my cheek again. I could not use my other hand to stop him because he did it so quickly, and I also was holding my dog with my other hand."
Vill said that the way Cuomo looked at her and his body language made her "very uncomfortable" and that she felt he was acting "in a highly flirtatious and inappropriate manner, especially in front of my family and neighbors."
"Within days" of that interaction, Vill said, she got a voicemail from Cuomo's aide inviting her to attend an event in town that the governor was going to be at.
"Notably, she did not say my husband and I or my family and I" were invited, Vill said. "Only specifically me. I purposely did not respond to the invitation. I felt very uneasy about the call. I was the only one that received the call and the personal invite from the governor. Then, to top it off, the governor sent me a letter and pictures. The pictures featured the governor and me, and the letter was addressed only to me. More alarms going off. The whole thing was so strange and inappropriate and still makes me nervous and afraid because of his power and position."
Allred said earlier in the news conference that Vill had wanted to report Cuomo's actions but that members of her family, some of whom saw the interaction, discouraged her from doing so out of concern that Cuomo would retaliate.
"They feared that if she made what happened to her public that the governor might use his power to retaliate against her and her family," Allred said. "For that reason, Sherry made the difficult decision to remain silent. Recently, however, Sherry decided that the people of New York deserve to know the truth and that Governor Cuomo should be held accountable for what he has done. For that reason, she has decided to break her silence and overcome her fear by speaking truth to power."
Allred said that Vill was willing to cooperate with New York Attorney General Tish James' investigation into the allegations and that she and Vill would contact James' office after the press conference. She added that many of Vill's family members supported her decision to come forward and that those who had seen her interaction with Cuomo "also felt that what the governor did was very surprising and not appropriate."
Nine other women have accused Cuomo of making inappropriate comments or physical advances, including Alyssa McGrath, who's now an aide in Cuomo's office, and the former aides Lindsey Boylan, Charlotte Bennett, and Ana Liss.
Jessica Blakeman and Valerie Bauman, two reporters who previously covered Albany, have also alleged that there was "rampant" sexual harassment in the state's capital and accused Cuomo of harassment.
In the wake of the allegations, nearly every Democrat from New York's congressional delegation and dozens of state lawmakers have called for Cuomo's resignation. The New York State Assembly is conducting an impeachment inquiry into the matter, and the state attorney general's office is also investigating.
The governor initially apologized but said he would not resign until the investigations concluded. He later said the accusations were motivated by "cancel culture."
Cuomo is also facing backlash amid news that the FBI is investigating whether his administration illegally concealed the full scope of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes in New York. And last week, reports said that he had procured coronavirus tests for his friends and family members - including his brother Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor - early in the pandemic, when most Americans did not have access to testing.