Mayoral candidate and city Comptroller Scott Stringer on Wednesday denied the two-decade-old allegations of sexual assault against him, but claimed he did have an “on-and-off” months-long “consensual” relationship with his accuser.
“First, I want to make it clear that I unequivocally condemn sexual harassment of any kind. Sexual harassment is unacceptable,” Stringer told reporters at a press conference in Lower Manhattan alongside his wife, Elyse Buxbaum.
Stringer insisted, “This isn’t me. I didn’t do this,” in response to the bombshell allegations by lobbyist Jean Kim, who has claimed Stringer groped her multiple times in 2001 while she was working as an unpaid intern on his campaign for public advocate.
“I am going to fight for the truth, because these allegations are false. The behavior described is inaccurate, and completely antithetical to the way I have conducted my life,” Stringer said.
The comptroller said he met Kim in the late 1990s and that she “supported and donated to my campaign for public advocate, beginning as early as 1999.”
“She was a peer, she was not — absolutely not — an intern on the campaign. Our internship program was made up of college students. She was not part of that,” said Stringer.
Stringer said, “Jean was, as I recall, employed at the time as a publicist. She was an active supporter of the campaign.”
Stringer claimed that Kim “has never worked for me in any capacity” and that they were “friends for a period of years.”
“For a several-month period around the time of the campaign, we had an on-and-off relationship over a few months. She was 30 and I was 41. The relationship started and ended before I met my wife, Elyse,” said Stringer, who is now 60.
“I believe it was a mutual, consensual relationship. I never used any force, made any threats, or did any of the things that are alleged,” said Stringer, explaining that he and Kim “maintained an amicable relationship for many years afterwards, until 2013, when we could not find her a role on my campaign for comptroller.”
“I understand how painful it is to hear these allegations, but I urge everyone, including my supporters, to treat Ms. Kim respectfully and courteously. Any behavior to the contrary does not represent me or my campaign. I firmly believe every person must be treated with respect and dignity,” he said.
Buxbaum, whom Stringer married in 2010 and with whom he has two children, defended her husband as she revealed that she is a “survivor of sexual abuse.”
“My entire life, I have never met a man more respectful of women or respectful of women’s rights,” Buxbaum said.
She continued, “Even if a fraction of what Scott is accused of is true, I would not stand by him.”
Kim, who is in her 40s, spoke out publicly earlier Wednesday near City Hall and charged that Stringer “inappropriately and relentlessly pursued a sexual relationship” with her and asked her more than once, “Why won’t you f—k me?”
“One evening, shortly before the primary, I was talking to Stringer about the primary when without warning, and without my consent, he kissed me using his tongue, put his hand down my pants and groped me inside my underpants,” Kim claimed.
“I pulled away and tried to avoid him. He warned me not to tell anyone about it,” she said.
Kim alleged, “When we were traveling together in taxis to and from campaign events, he repeatedly put his hands on my thighs and between my legs. He asked me on more than one occasion, ‘Why won’t you f—k me?’”
Stringer said, “I don’t talk that way. That’s not the language I use, and I didn’t use that language ever.”
The comptroller has called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign over the slew of sexual harassment claims against him, but said he would not resign.
“[Cuomo’s] been accused of multiple incidents of abusing his office. I do not believe that this incident is in the same category, and I am here to tell you that what was described today simply is not true, and I unequivocally deny these allegations,” Stringer said.
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