Upstate Woman Says Governor Cuomo Ignored Sexual Harassment Claims

ALBANY (CBSNEWYORK/AP) — An upstate New York woman says in a federal lawsuit that she was sexually harassed by a state employee, and the governor knew and did nothing to stop it, allegations the governor’s office denies.

Lisa Marie Cater says that former Empire State Development Corp. regional president William “Sam” Hoyt helped her get a job at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and then used that as an excuse to harass and assault her starting in 2015.

Hoyt did not supervisor or work with Cater. But the lawsuit filed Saturday said Hoyt would consistently call her and send her lewd emails and texts.

The lawsuit said Hoyt stalked Cater and on some occasions kissed and groped her without her consent.

“At every step of the way, Mr. Hoyt did everything in his power to dangle her job and livelihood over her head,” said attorney Paul Liggieri.

Liggieri said his client tried reporting Hoyt’s behavior to Cuomo’s office via phone, text, email, and social media starting in July 2016.

“She complained time and time again, and yet heard nothing from the state,” Liggieri said.

Cuomo’s lawyer said Cater’s complaint was immediately referred to the State Employee Relations Office for an investigation.

“The facts alleged in this complaint regarding Mr. Hoyt were not provided to state investigators and in many cases contradict the public allegations made in the last several weeks,” counsel Alphonso David said in a statement provided to CBS2. “The state launched 3 separate investigations into this matter, and any assertion to the contrary is patently and demonstrably false, and as such, we expect this matter to be summarily dismissed.”

In addition, New York state Inspector General’s office spokesman John Milgrim claimed in a statement that Cater did not cooperate with plans to investigate.

“On Nov. ‎30, 2016 the Chief Investigator of the IG’s Buffalo office spoke with Ms. Cater. He asked her several times to come in for an interview and she refused. She was also asked over the phone for information regarding her complaint and she failed to provide,” Milgrim said in the statement. “The matter remains open.”‎

But Liggieri argued with the state’s claims.

“There was absolutely cooperation with my client,” he said. “Somehow, Samuel Hoyt found out a complaint was being made, and then it proved futile and dissuaded my client from complaining.”

Hoyt resigned Oct. 30.

Cater admitted to accepting at $50,000 payment from Hoyt before he resigned in exchange for her silence, which she said she cannot hold any longer.

Hoyt’s lawyer told the New York Post that his client denied the allegations. CBS2 also reached out to Hoyt, and he deferred to the governor’s office for any comment.