Gov. Andrew Cuomo — now being called on to resign over allegations of sexual harassment — apparently couldn’t help himself during a live press briefing last spring, commenting on the appearance of a female doctor in full protective gear who was administering him a coronavirus test.
The unsolicited preserved-on-video comment now stands out with Cuomo publicly accused of sexual harassment by three women in less than a week.
“You make that gown look good,” Cuomo said as Dr. Elizabeth Dufort — clad in the personal protective equipment that has become standard issue for medical professionals during the pandemic — walked out at his Albany briefing in May.
Dufort maintained a professional demeanor, offering a slight chuckle but otherwise ignoring the comment to instruct Cuomo to lift his head and close his eyes for the nasal swab test.
“Close my eyes? Why do I need to close my eyes?” asked Cuomo, hamming it up for journalists on hand for the briefing. “Question the doctor, that’s OK.”
After administering the test — which later came back negative — Dufort left the briefing.
Dufort did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the Cuomo administration.
Such interactions — including Cuomo encouraging a female journalist to “eat the whole sausage” at a state fair — have come under renewed scrutiny since multiple women have stepped forward to accuse the 63-year-old governor of sexual harassment.
In a Medium post published last month, former Cuomo staffer Lindsey Boylan, 36, alleged that the governor kissed her on the lips without warning and suggested they spend a flight playing strip poker.
Days later, fellow ex-staffer Charlotte Bennett, 25, accused Cuomo of making a series of inappropriate remarks and asking questions about her sex life, a pattern that left her convinced the governor was in pursuit of a relationship.
And on Monday, Anna Ruch, 33, alleged that Cuomo grabbed her and kissed her cheek at a wedding in 2019.
In a statement released following Bennett’s allegation, Cuomo apologized for what he characterized as workplace “jokes” that he admitted could have been construed as “unwanted flirtation,” while denying that he touched anyone inappropriately, as alleged by Boylan.
The governor’s office referred to the same statement in response to Ruch’s allegations — despite Ruch saying she had never met Cuomo before that moment, and a photograph of Cuomo holding his hands to her face.
The allegations have seen Cuomo hit with bipartisan calls to resign, a move which would put Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in charge as New York State’s first female governor.
Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan