3rd woman accuses Cuomo of unwanted advance as sexual harassment investigation looms

ALBANY, N.Y. — Just one day after Andrew Cuomo addressed sexual harassment allegations from two former aides, a third woman is claiming that the New York governor behaved inappropriately, touched her face and back, and asked to kiss her at a 2019 wedding reception.

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In an article published Monday in The New York Times, Anna Ruch, 33, told the newspaper that the incident occurred after she thanked Cuomo for a toast he had given at the reception. Ruch said he then placed a hand on her back, the Times reported. After Ruch removed his hand, he put both of his hands on her face and asked to kiss her, she said.

Ruch said she “was so confused and shocked and embarrassed” during the moment, which was captured on camera, the newspaper reported.

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The allegation is the latest against the 63-year-old Democrat, who issued an apology after former aides Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan recently accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, according to The Associated Press. Bennett, 25, said Cuomo asked her inappropriate questions about her sexual relationships, such as whether she would sleep with an older man, while Boylan said Cuomo kissed her without consent, the AP reported.

“Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office,” Cuomo, who took office in 2011, said in a statement posted Sunday to his government website. “I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends.”

The statement continued: “At work, sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good-natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.

“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”

Cuomo went on to say he “never inappropriately touched anybody” and “never propositioned anybody.”

“I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to,” he added. “That’s why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations.”

The AP reported that Cuomo initially had proposed that retired federal judge Barbara Jones, whom he selected, investigate his behavior. When that plan was rejected, Cuomo asked Attorney General Letitia James and Janet DiFiore, New York’s chief appeals court judge, to choose an attorney to review the allegations and release a report to the public, according to the news agency. James rejected the second plan, as well, and demanded that her office control the investigation, the AP reported.

On Monday, James said Cuomo’s office sent a letter to James that allows her to choose a law firm to conduct the investigation, according to the AP.

“Today, we received a referral letter providing our office the authority to move forward with an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment claims made against Governor Cuomo,” James tweeted. “At the close of the review, the findings will be disclosed in a public report.”

When asked about Ruch’s allegations, a Cuomo spokesman pointed to the governor’s previous statement, the Times reported. Meanwhile, Bennett and Boylan took to social media to lend support to Ruch, saying they are here for her.

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