A Rochester woman on Monday described her moment of embarrassment when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo "manhandled" her and "forcibly" kissed her while touring her flood-damaged home in 2017. Sherry Vill is latest in the long list of women to have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in less than a month.
Vill said that while kissing her Cuomo did so in a "highly sexual manner" and the incident happened in front of her husband and son. The alleged encounter occurred when Cuomo was touring Greece, NY, which had recently been ravaged by floods. Vill, whose house was among those damaged, invited Cuomo into her home and expressed dismay at its condition.
Vill recalled Cuomo holding her hand, forcibly grabbing her face, aggressively kissing her cheeks and calling her beautiful. The unwanted advances made her uncomfortable, especially around her family and neighbors.
"The whole thing was so strange and inappropriate and still makes me nervous and afraid because of his power and position," said Vill, a 55-year-old married mother of three, as she spoke out in an afternoon briefing alongside lawyer Gloria Allred. "I am still afraid of him, but I am no longer willing to remain silent."
"That's when the governor looked at me, approached me, took my hand and pulled me to him," Vill 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."
Interestingly, the entire incident was captured on video by her son, who posted a still image on Facebook. Cuomo also allegedly told Vill she was beautiful. "I felt that he was coming on to me in my own home," Vill said.
Vill said that she later received a letter and pictures from the governor, addressed only to her, and a personal invitation to attend one of his local events.
Vill said that incident left her embarrassed as it happened in front of her family members. But more than anything she was left shocked for days. "I felt shocked and didn't understand what had just happened," said Vill. "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."
Cuomo's office hasn't yet commented on the latest allegation made by Vill but his administration has so far generally denied any inappropriate touching by the governor despite a swathe of accusations from multiple women about his behavior.
"I know the difference between an innocent gesture and a sexual one," she continued. "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."
Vill's is the latest in a series of allegations detailing a pattern of sexual misconduct by the now infamous Cuomo. The latest accusations come as Cuomo faces a Department of Justice inquiry into the state's data on COVID nursing home deaths; a New York Attorney General investigation into the sexual harassment accusations; and mounting pressure to resign amid an impeachment probe.