Leading NYC mayoral candidate accused of sexual assault, harassment

NEW YORK — A lobbyist and former intern accused mayoral candidate Scott Stringer of sexual harassment and assault when she worked on his 2001 public advocate campaign, during a press conference in Manhattan Wednesday.

Jean Kim, accompanied by her attorney Patricia Pastor, said Stringer repeatedly groped and kissed her, urged her not to tell anyone and promised he would make her a district leader. Kim called on Stringer, who has denied the allegations, to resign from his current position as city comptroller and withdraw from the mayor’s race. Stringer is a leading candidate in the Democratic mayoral primary and has touted support from progressive female lawmakers who have made sexual harassment a key part of their agenda.

“I have tried my best to put this chapter of my life behind me,” Kim said. “I’m coming forward now because being forced to see him in my living room, TV, everyday, pretending to be a champion for women’s rights, just sickens me, and I know the truth.”

Kim and her lawyer are calling on the Attorney General’s office or the city Department of Investigation to probe the allegations.

Former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — who himself resigned amid accusations of sexual abuse and harassment — introduced Kim to Stringer in 2001, Pastor said. Kim said Stringer, who was then an Assemblymember, offered her an unpaid internship working on his unsuccessful public advocate campaign that year.

“She attended endorsements, campaign events and dinners with Stringer as his campaign intern,” Pastor told reporters. “On several occasions … when Jean found herself alone with Stringer in a cab traveling to or from a political event, he put his hands on her thigh and between her legs, causing her to pull away.”

“Why won’t you f— me? Why won’t you f— me?” Stringer allegedly said when she refused his advances.

Pastor said Stringer and Kim did not have a consensual sexual relationship when asked by reporters.

Now in her 40s, Kim, who did not speak at length during the press conference, mostly nodding along as her attorney detailed the allegations.

Pastor said Kim was extremely uncomfortable and offended by Stringer’s conduct and feared retaliation, due to his connections in New York City. Stringer is a career politician from a political family. Kim worked on former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s comptroller campaign against Stringer in 2013. Spitzer, too, was forced to resign as governor amid his own sex scandal. Campaign finance records show Kim donated to Stringer’s campaigns several times between 2001 and 2010. Kim’s attorney declined to offer immediate comment on the donations when asked.

“Men who sexually abuse or harass women are not women’s advocates, no matter how many bills they pass, how many reforms they pursue or how many times they call themselves a feminist,” Pastor said.

News of the allegations first emerged Tuesday night, prompting Stringer to issue a statement denying the allegations.

“I firmly believe that all survivors of harassment have the right to come forward. I will reserve further comment until this person has had the opportunity to share their story,” Stringer said. “For now, let me say without equivocation: these allegations are untrue and do not reflect my interactions with anyone, including any woman or member of my staff.”

The candidate is expected to address reporters Wednesday afternoon.

The accusations come as the Democratic primary for mayor is in its final two months.

Stringer has highlighted his support in the race from progressive women lawmakers such as state Sens. Alessandra Biaggi, Julia Salazar and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou — all of whom are survivors themselves and have been vocal advocates for women coming forward. They have also been among Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s harshest critics as he faces multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

“As survivors of childhood sexual assault, we believe survivors,” the three lawmakers said in a joint statement. “Our commitment to a harassment free government, workplace, and society is steadfast, and our zero tolerance standard regarding sexual assault applies to abusers like Andrew Cuomo, if not more so, to our friends. This standard also applies to everyone who participates in the normalization or erasure of abuse.”

The statement does not specifically indicate if they plan to withdraw their support from Stringer’s mayoral campaign. Calls to the three as well state Sen. Jessica Ramos, also an early Stringer supporter, were not immediately returned. Stringer called on Cuomo to resign in March as the governor faced mounting harassment accusations of his own.

Rival mayoral candidate Dianne Morales issued a statement supporting Kim Wednesday morning.

“I’m not focused on Scott Stringer. I’m focused on the woman of color who has to endure public scrutiny as she speaks her truth about the harm she’s experienced. I have been consistent that we need to believe survivors, and that doesn’t change today,” Morales said. “I thank Jean for bravery in speaking out and coming forward. And I offer compassion to her for what she has endured, and what is yet to come. I stand with her, and her demands for justice.”

Kathryn Garcia, another primary candidate, called on Stringer to drop out.

“It takes tremendous courage for anyone to come forward. I support Jean Kim, I believe Jean Kim, and I commend her bravery for speaking truth to power,” Garcia said in a statement. “Scott Stringer should stand by his own policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment and drop out of the mayoral race. New Yorkers need and deserve a mayor they can trust, who demonstrates steady, competent, and capable leadership. It is clear that Scott Stringer is not that person and that we need more women in leadership and elected office.”

Maya Wiley, who hosted a lengthy press conference attacking fellow mayoral candidate Andrew Yang for appearing in a video where he laughed when asked if he “choked b—es,” also excoriated Stringer, though she stopped short of calling on him to quit the race or resign.

“Scott Stringer must immediately account for this abuse of a campaign intern, including the unwanted advances and the dangling of jobs,” she said in a statement issued by her campaign. “The behavior, as Kim describes it, is a sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment. Furthermore, she says that she was driven to silence from telling her story. That is an act we’ve seen far too often: men who use positions of power over women to intimidate them. Then, after the abuse happens, they warn them to not tell anyone about it. … The people of New York just deserve better than this.”

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Scott Stringer
Scott Stringer has touted support from progressive female lawmakers who have made sexual harassment a key part of their agenda. | Frank Franklin II/AP Photo

04/28/2021 01:10 PM EDT

Updated 04/28/2021 01:33 PM EDT

2021-04-28T01:33-0400

NEW YORK — A lobbyist and former intern accused mayoral candidate Scott Stringer of sexual harassment and assault when she worked on his 2001 public advocate campaign, during a press conference in Manhattan Wednesday.

Jean Kim, accompanied by her attorney Patricia Pastor, said Stringer repeatedly groped and kissed her, urged her not to tell anyone and promised he would make her a district leader. Kim called on Stringer, who has denied the allegations, to resign from his current position as city comptroller and withdraw from the mayor’s race. Stringer is a leading candidate in the Democratic mayoral primary and has touted support from progressive female lawmakers who have made sexual harassment a key part of their agenda.

“I have tried my best to put this chapter of my life behind me,” Kim said. “I’m coming forward now because being forced to see him in my living room, TV, everyday, pretending to be a champion for women’s rights, just sickens me, and I know the truth.”

Kim and her lawyer are calling on the Attorney General’s office or the city Department of Investigation to probe the allegations.

Former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — who himself resigned amid accusations of sexual abuse and harassment — introduced Kim to Stringer in 2001, Pastor said. Kim said Stringer, who was then an Assemblymember, offered her an unpaid internship working on his unsuccessful public advocate campaign that year.

“She attended endorsements, campaign events and dinners with Stringer as his campaign intern,” Pastor told reporters. “On several occasions … when Jean found herself alone with Stringer in a cab traveling to or from a political event, he put his hands on her thigh and between her legs, causing her to pull away.”

“Why won’t you f— me? Why won’t you f— me?” Stringer allegedly said when she refused his advances.

Pastor said Stringer and Kim did not have a consensual sexual relationship when asked by reporters.

Now in her 40s, Kim, who did not speak at length during the press conference, mostly nodding along as her attorney detailed the allegations.

Pastor said Kim was extremely uncomfortable and offended by Stringer’s conduct and feared retaliation, due to his connections in New York City. Stringer is a career politician from a political family. Kim worked on former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s comptroller campaign against Stringer in 2013. Spitzer, too, was forced to resign as governor amid his own sex scandal. Campaign finance records show Kim donated to Stringer’s campaigns several times between 2001 and 2010. Kim’s attorney declined to offer immediate comment on the donations when asked.

“Men who sexually abuse or harass women are not women’s advocates, no matter how many bills they pass, how many reforms they pursue or how many times they call themselves a feminist,” Pastor said.

News of the allegations first emerged Tuesday night, prompting Stringer to issue a statement denying the allegations.

“I firmly believe that all survivors of harassment have the right to come forward. I will reserve further comment until this person has had the opportunity to share their story,” Stringer said. “For now, let me say without equivocation: these allegations are untrue and do not reflect my interactions with anyone, including any woman or member of my staff.”

The candidate is expected to address reporters Wednesday afternoon.

The accusations come as the Democratic primary for mayor is in its final two months.

Stringer has highlighted his support in the race from progressive women lawmakers such as state Sens. Alessandra Biaggi, Julia Salazar and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou — all of whom are survivors themselves and have been vocal advocates for women coming forward. They have also been among Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s harshest critics as he faces multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

“As survivors of childhood sexual assault, we believe survivors,” the three lawmakers said in a joint statement. “Our commitment to a harassment free government, workplace, and society is steadfast, and our zero tolerance standard regarding sexual assault applies to abusers like Andrew Cuomo, if not more so, to our friends. This standard also applies to everyone who participates in the normalization or erasure of abuse.”

The statement does not specifically indicate if they plan to withdraw their support from Stringer’s mayoral campaign. Calls to the three as well state Sen. Jessica Ramos, also an early Stringer supporter, were not immediately returned. Stringer called on Cuomo to resign in March as the governor faced mounting harassment accusations of his own.

Rival mayoral candidate Dianne Morales issued a statement supporting Kim Wednesday morning.

“I’m not focused on Scott Stringer. I’m focused on the woman of color who has to endure public scrutiny as she speaks her truth about the harm she’s experienced. I have been consistent that we need to believe survivors, and that doesn’t change today,” Morales said. “I thank Jean for bravery in speaking out and coming forward. And I offer compassion to her for what she has endured, and what is yet to come. I stand with her, and her demands for justice.”

Kathryn Garcia, another primary candidate, called on Stringer to drop out.

“It takes tremendous courage for anyone to come forward. I support Jean Kim, I believe Jean Kim, and I commend her bravery for speaking truth to power,” Garcia said in a statement. “Scott Stringer should stand by his own policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment and drop out of the mayoral race. New Yorkers need and deserve a mayor they can trust, who demonstrates steady, competent, and capable leadership. It is clear that Scott Stringer is not that person and that we need more women in leadership and elected office.”

Maya Wiley, who hosted a lengthy press conference attacking fellow mayoral candidate Andrew Yang for appearing in a video where he laughed when asked if he “choked b—es,” also excoriated Stringer, though she stopped short of calling on him to quit the race or resign.

“Scott Stringer must immediately account for this abuse of a campaign intern, including the unwanted advances and the dangling of jobs,” she said in a statement issued by her campaign. “The behavior, as Kim describes it, is a sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment. Furthermore, she says that she was driven to silence from telling her story. That is an act we’ve seen far too often: men who use positions of power over women to intimidate them. Then, after the abuse happens, they warn them to not tell anyone about it. … The people of New York just deserve better than this.”

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