New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference. | Seth Wenig/AP Photo

NEW YORK — A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the governor kissed her without her consent and asked her to play strip poker, alleging a pattern of sexual harassment she detailed in a new account Wednesday.

Lindsey Boylan, who is running for Manhattan borough president and formerly worked for Cuomo and the state’s economic development agency, wrote in a Medium post that Cuomo kissed her on the lips against her will at his office in Manhattan.

The former staffer’s charges come as the governor is deluged with accusations that he covered up coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes. The fallout has led to accusations in New York’s political world about Cuomo’s tyrannical behavior — including a recent allegation by Assembly Member Ron Kim who said the governor threatened to “destroy” him over Kim’s criticism of the nursing home debacle.

“Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right,” Boylan wrote. “He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.”

Boylan said the kiss took place after she gave the governor a one-on-one briefing on state economic and infrastructure projects.

“We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking,” Boylan wrote.

She said she left past the desk of another staffer. “I was scared she had seen the kiss. The idea that someone might think I held my high-ranking position because of the Governor’s ‘crush’ on me was more demeaning than the kiss itself,” she wrote. “After that, my fears worsened. I came to work nauseous every day. My relationship with his senior team — mostly women — grew hostile after I started speaking up for myself. I was reprimanded and told to get in line by his top aides, but I could no longer ignore it.”

Boylan first accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in December, but went into detail for the first time on Wednesday. Cuomo previously denied Boylan’s allegations.

“Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has a right to come forward and express her opinion, and express issues and concerns that she has,” Cuomo said in December. “But it’s just not true.”

Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Boylan also could not be reached for comment.

Starting in 2015, Boylan was vice president and then chief of staff at Empire State Development. She then became deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, a job she said she initially turned down because she was uncomfortable around Cuomo, but eventually accepted, at his insistence, with the agreement that she would work on a different floor. She ran unsuccessfully for Congress against Rep. Jerry Nadler last year.

In October 2017, Boylan said she was flying on Cuomo’s government jet back from an event in Western New York.

“Let’s play strip poker,” she quoted the governor as saying as they were sitting facing each other, close enough that their knees almost touched, in the presence of a state trooper and press aide.

She said she tried to brush off the comment, responding sarcastically, “That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

The former aide said she first chose to go public with her accusations of harassment when she heard Cuomo’s name floated as a candidate for U.S. attorney general in December.

“I’m compelled to tell my story because no woman should feel forced to hide their experiences of workplace intimidation, harassment and humiliation — not by the Governor or anyone else,” she wrote Wednesday. “I expect the Governor and his top aides will attempt to further disparage me, just as they’ve done with Assemblymember Kim. They’d lose their jobs if they didn’t protect him. That’s how his administration works. I know because I was a part of it.”

Boylan said soon after she first met Cuomo in 2016 at an event at Madison Square Garden to promote the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex project, her boss told her the governor had a “crush” on her.

Another staffer told her Cuomo suggested she look up images of Lisa Shields, his rumored former girlfriend, because “we could be sisters” and she was “the better looking sister,” and then began calling her Lisa in front of colleagues. Boylan’s post included screenshots of some emails and texts she exchanged with family and colleagues about the governor’s behavior.

Cuomo would also touch her on the lower back, arms, and legs, Boylan said.

She also described being summoned to Cuomo’s office where he showed a cigar box that was a gift from former President Bill Clinton, which she took as a reference to Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

The governor made negative comments about the weight of female colleagues and their personal relationships, Boylan said.

“Telling my truth isn’t about seeking revenge. I was proud to work in the Cuomo Administration,” Boylan wrote. “For so long I had looked up to the Governor. But his abusive behavior needs to stop.”

Anna Gronewold contributed to this report.

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