EXCLUSIVE: NY county lawmaker compares Cuomo to Central Park Five, says alleged victims have political motive
Andrew Kerr, DCNF
A Democratic county lawmaker in Buffalo said Thursday the three women who have accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual misconduct are motivated by politics, according to video footage obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The lawmaker, Jeanne Vinal, said during a legislature meeting she was going to vote against two county resolutions calling for independent investigations of allegations against Cuomo, saying to do so would be akin to jumping “on a bandwagon of the way they did in the Central Park Five.”
“I honestly in my heart feel that there is a political motive to some degree on this,” Vinal said. “The thing is going through the facts. To jump on a bandwagon of the way they did in the Central Park Five and other times when people jumped on the bandwagon immediately when there’s an accusation … men and women both have the right to be heard and have the whole thing decided.”
“So I am not going to vote for either of these two things,” she said.
The Central Park Five is a reference to five teens who were wrongfully convicted for the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park in 1989. They were all exonerated in 2002 after another individual confessed to the crime, which was backed up by DNA evidence, according to USA Today.
Vinal also stated she was “very supportive” of Cuomo’s record leading New York on “the covid issue and on other issues … and those sensitive buttons like social justice and other things.”
Vinal did not respond to a request for comment.
Democratic legislator John Gilmour, who authored one of the resolutions, said he totally disagreed with Vinal’s decision to vote against the measures.
“I believe in due process. I’m not passing judgment on the governor. I’m not saying he’s guilty,” Gilmour said. “All I’m asking for is a truly independent investigation.”
Erie County Republican Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw said in a statement Thursday that Vinal’s comments were an attack on Cuomo’s alleged victims.
“Legislator Vinal is the only elected official in America we know of who attacked the three alleged victims, while defending Governor Cuomo,” Mychajliw said. “This is unconscionable.”
Two female former employees of Cuomo, Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in the workplace.
A third accuser, Anna Ruch, said Cuomo put his hand on her bare lower back during a wedding reception in September 2018. Ruch said after she removed Cuomo’s hand from her back, the governor said she was “aggressive,” placed his hands on her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her.
Cuomo said during a press conference Wednesday that he “never touched anyone inappropriately.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and frankly embarrassed by it and that’s not easy to say but that’s the truth.”