Sherry Vill, a married, 55-year-old mother of three, on Monday accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of grabbing and kissing her inappropriately while he toured her flood-damaged home in 2017.
Vill joins nine other women in accusing the governor, 63, of inappropriate conduct. Most accusers are current or former staffers. Vill was accompanied by attorney Gloria Allred on Monday.
She said she has not spoken out before because of fear of reprisals from the governor or his office.
"The whole thing was so strange and inappropriate and still makes me nervous and afraid because of his power and position," Vill said, according to the New York Post. "I am still afraid of him, but I am no longer willing to remain silent."
The two met when Cuomo toured Greece, N.Y. in May 2017, after the city had been hit by heavy flooding. Vill said she invited Cuomo into her home to view the damage.
"That’s when the governor looked at me, approached me, took my hand and pulled me to him," she said. "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 went to squeeze between the dog and mine and kiss me on the other cheek in what I felt was a highly sexual manner."
"He said, 'That’s what Italians do, kiss both cheeks'" Vill said.
She immediately "felt shocked and didn’t understand what had just happened," Vill added. "But I knew I felt embarrassed and weird about his kissing me. I am Italian, and in my family, family members kiss. Strangers do not kiss, especially upon meeting someone for the first time.
Then, on the way out the door, Cuomo "stopped, he turned to me and said, 'You are beautiful,': Vill said, adding, "That made me feel even more uncomfortable. I felt as though he was coming on to me in my own home."
Allred displayed a screengrab of Cuomo allegedly grabbing Vill's face a second time outside her house and kissing her again. The image was captured by Vill's son, who was recording the visit.
"I felt like I was being manhandled, especially because he was holding my face and he was kissing my cheek again," Vill said. "The way he looked at me and his body language made me very uncomfortable. I felt he was acting in a highly flirtatious and inappropriate manner, especially in front of my family and neighbors."
"He towered over me. There was nothing I could do," she said, noting the governor stands a foot taller than her.
"I know the difference between an innocent gesture and a sexual one," she said. "I never felt as uncomfortable as I did the day that Gov. Cuomo came to my home. His actions were very overly sexual, highly inappropriate and disrespectful to me and my family."
Days later, someone on Cuomo's staff left Vill a voicemail asking her to attend an event with the governor, she said.
"Notably, [the staffer] did not say 'my husband and I,' or 'my family and I,' Only specifically me," Vill said. She said she did not respond to the call.
She also received a signed letter from the governor with two photos of him shaking hands with her in her home. It was addressed only to her as well even though Cuomo had met Vill's husband and her son.
"This had a long-term effect on me," Vill said, saying that her neighbors began teasing her by calling her "the governor'’s new girlfriend.”
Allred said there are no plans to sue or contact the New York State Assembly about its investigation into the governor.
Cuomo's office did not respond to the Post's request for comment.
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