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Ex-aide details sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo

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A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday provided new details to back up her claims of sexual harassment — including an allegation that New York’s top elected official kissed her “on the lips” without warning inside his Manhattan office.

Lindsey Boylan — now a Democratic candidate for Manhattan borough president — made the stunning allegation in an essay posted on the Medium website.

Boylan said the incident took place after her 2018 promotion to be Cuomo’s deputy secretary for economic development and special advisor to the governor — a job she initially turned down “because I didn’t want to be near him.”

“We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue,” she wrote.

Lindsey Boylan has accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.
Lindsey Boylan has accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.Seth Wenig/Pool via AP

“As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.”

Afterward, Boylan wrote, “I came to work nauseous every day,” then resigned on Sept. 26, 2018.

Boylan also alleges that Cuomo suggested, “Let’s play strip poker,” while they were “flying home from an October 2017 event in Western New York on his taxpayer-funded jet.”

Cuomo made the comment as he and Boylan sat facing each other, with his press aide to her right “and a state trooper behind us,” according to her essay.

“Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected,” she wrote.

Lindsey Boylan alleges that Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested, "Let's play strip poker."
Lindsey Boylan alleges that Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested, “Let’s play strip poker.”
Rashid Umar Abbasi

Boylan made her bombshell claims in the wake of The Post’s recent revelation that top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa privately admitted his administration hid the total number of nursing home residents killed by COVID-19 from lawmakers and the public over fear that federal prosecutors would use it “against us.”

The Post’s scoop has sparked calls for Cuomo to be impeached and a probe by the FBI and Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office.

In her 1,700-plus-word essay, Boylan said DeRosa and “other top women” around Cuomo “normalized” his alleged harassment so “that only now do I realize how insidious his abuse was.”

Boylan also posted screenshots of government emails, including one in which Cuomo’s executive secretary, Stephanie Benton, purportedly passed along a message from him that referenced a reported former girlfriend to show she was his type.

“He said look up Lisa Shields. You could be sisters. Except you’re the better looking sister,” the Dec. 14, 2016, email said.

Later, Boylan wrote, Cuomo “began calling me ‘Lisa’ in front of colleagues. It was degrading.”

Another image shows a Nov. 1, 2016, email exchange in which Cuomo’s chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, asked Howard Zemsky — then the state’s economic-development czar — whether Boylan would be attending a meeting the next day.

Zemsky wrote back, “Ha!” and added that Boylan would be in Albany “but it will be hard for her to concentrate on the presentations while worrying about how the Gov’s day is going in Rochester.”

In her essay, Boylan also said that after she first accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in a series of tweets in December, “two women reached out to me with their own experiences.”

“One described how she lived in constant fear, scared of what would happen to her if she rejected the Governor’s advances,” she wrote.

“The other said she was instructed by the Governor to warn staff members who upset him that their jobs could be at risk. Both told me they are too afraid to speak out.”

When she initially accused Cuomo, Boylan didn’t provide any details of his alleged harassment and didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.

In a tweet Wednesday, she said, “I never planned to share the details of my experience working in the Cuomo administration, but I am doing so now in hopes that it may make it easier for others to speak their own truth.”

Cuomo’s office didn’t immediately return a request for comment, but the governor denied Boylan’s allegations in December.

“It’s not true,” Cuomo said during a news conference a day after her tweets.

“Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion and express issues and concerns that she has. But it’s just not true.”

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FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

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A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
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The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
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Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

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One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

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One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

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NYC school leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

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The leaders of the city’s public schools and largest charter network both weighed in on the Derek Chauvin verdict with passionate statements about how there is still a long way to go to reach systemic equality.

Department of Education Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter issued a personal commentary Tuesday night after the murder conviction of former Minnesota cop Chauvin.

“I felt pain and rage, deep in my bones,” she said of her initial reaction to George Floyd’s death. “It wasn’t a new feeling. I have felt that many times in my life, as a Black woman, sister, daughter, and mother to Black children—and as an educator who has served children of color in this city for more than 20 years.”

Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would be issuing guidance for teachers and families to help them process the verdict.

Eva Moskowitz with two students, the CEO and Founder of the Success Academy
Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz issued a statement on the Derek Chauvin verdict.
Brigitte Stelzer

“For our Black and brown children to know that they matter, the accountability this verdict represents is so important,” she stated. “In a world that too often tells them otherwise, accountability in this moment tells the Black and brown children in our schools that their lives matter, and lifts up the importance of their futures.”

Several teachers told The Post on Wednesday morning that they planned to broach the topic with their students to allow them to discuss Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s conviction.

Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Mark Lennihan/AP

“Because while the individual who took George Floyd’s life will be held accountable, we recognize that systemic racism, and the violence it fuels, is still creating tragedy and inequality across our country every single day,” Ross-Porter said. “We are all part of the work to undo this harm and reach true justice.”

Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, who oversees the city’s largest charter school network, also issued a statement.

People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“We are grateful that justice has been served and that the judicial process has worked as intended,” she wrote. “We recognize, however, that this verdict does not resolve the systemic inequities that led to Floyd’s death; nor does it heal the anguish we feel witnessing our fellow citizens die at the hands of the public servants tasked with protecting us.”

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