An aide to Gov. Cuomo accused him on Friday of ogling her body and subjecting her and another staffer to suggestive remarks — sometimes in Italian — making her the first current employee to come forward publicly with allegations of sexual harassment against the beleaguered governor.
Alyssa McGrath, an executive aide in the governor’s office, told The New York Times that Cuomo routinely made inappropriate comments about her physical appearance, including commenting in Italian on how beautiful she was while she was alone with him in his home office.
On one occasion, McGrath said she was called into Cuomo’s office at the State Capitol to take dictation.
She told the newspaper that she was nervous, having never taken dictation alone with him before.
“I put my head down waiting for him to start speaking, and he didn’t start speaking,” she recalled. “So I looked up to see what was going on. And he was blatantly looking down my shirt.”
Noticing that McGrath was looking at him, Cuomo made “a subtle reference, saying, ‘What’s on your necklace?’ which was in my shirt,” she said.
Though she’s the first current Cuomo aide to publicly allege sexual harassment, she is one of eight women who have come forward with various claims of misconduct against the governor, prompting most Democratic leaders in New York, on both a state and federal level, to demand his resignation.
The most serious allegation comes from an unidentified current staffer who says Cuomo forcibly groped her underneath her blouse at the Executive Mansion in Albany.
McGrath said she recently spoke to the unnamed staffer, with whom she is close.
In the conversation, the co-worker told McGrath that Cuomo asked her last week to not speak to McGrath about the alleged incident at the Executive Mansion, knowing that they regularly communicated, she said.
“He told her specifically not to tell me,” McGrath said.
McGrath said Cuomo occasionally paired her and the unnamed co-worker together to help him with work on weekends, either at the Capitol or at the Executive Mansion, where he lives.
On a Saturday in February 2020, McGrath said she and her colleague were working alone with Cuomo at the Capitol when the two women began discussing a planned Florida trip.
Interjecting, Cuomo asked the co-worker — who was married at the time — if she was planning on meeting men to “mingle” while in Florida, McGrath said.
They laughed off the question, McGrath said, but not without Cuomo first giving them a nickname.
“He called us ‘mingle mamas’ for the rest of the day,” McGrath said.
Rita Glavin, a lawyer for Cuomo, reiterated the governor’s denial of ever inappropriately touching anyone, but gave some of McGrath’s allegations credence.
“The governor has greeted men and women with hugs and a kiss on the cheek, forehead, or hand. Yes, he has posed for photographs with his arm around them. Yes, he uses Italian phrases like ‘ciao bella,’” Glavin said in a statement. “None of this is remarkable, although it may be old-fashioned. He has made clear that he has never made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched anyone.”
Mariann Wang, an attorney for McGrath, rejected Glavin’s explanation and suggested Cuomo’s comments in Italian went beyond “ciao bella,” adding that her client had to ask her parents to translate the phrase the governor had used in reference to her.
“The governor’s deflections are not credible,” Wang told the Daily News in an email. “This was not just friendly banter. Ms. McGrath understands the common phrase ‘ciao Bella.’ As she herself says: ‘I would not call my parents to find out what that phrase means. I know what that phrase means.’”