City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer vehemently denied on Wednesday 20-year-old accusations of sexual assault made against him by a former campaign intern, Jean Kim.
According to reports, Kim, who currently works as a political lobbyist, had accused Stinger of sexually assaulting her in 2001. In response, Stringer emerged hand-in-hand with his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, to face an army of cameras and rebuke the allegation.
Kim detailed the allegations in a statement, claiming that Stringer relentlessly attempted to pursue a relationship with her and fondled her against her will and demanded sex during taxi rides.
“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. I pulled away and tried to avoid him. He warned me not to tell anyone about it,” Kim said in her remarks during a press conference Wednesday morning.
But Stringer says that Kim’s statements are false.
“It was a consensual relationship and we had a relationship for several months,” Stringer said. “I can only tell you that what she said today is simply not true and not accurate.”
Stringer also inferred Kim’s statement to be motivated by anger since he says he did not have a place on staff during his run for Comptroller.
Despite the seriousness of the crime for which he has been accused, Buxbaum said that she believes her husband and is standing with him.
“I chose Scott as I felt safe with him. Safe in ways I didn’t know possible. He listens to me, protects me, and respects me. Although I am his wife, I am not an anomaly, so many of the female staffers who work with him now have been with him for years and even decades. It is because they know he listens to women, promotes women, and believes women,” Buxbaum said.
Buxbaum has been married to Stringer for 11 years, and shared during the press conference that she has been a victim of a previous sexual assault herself.
Stringer urged his supporters and New Yorkers in general to treat Kim respectfully and courteously, although he maintains her claims to be falsehoods.
Buxbaum added that she and her husband have a zero tolerance towards assault and that every case should be investigated. She also stated that, if any of the story were proven true, she would be the first to go; however, she assures that this is not the case.
“I am not that kind of doting wife, and I would be the first person to walk away,” Buxbaum said. “I know with every fiber of my being that he doesn’t use that kind of language, he doesn’t engage in that type of behavior, and is the most respectful man I have ever known.”
Stringer kissed his wife, and continued to repeat, “I can tell you categorically, uneqvially, the rape allegations made today are false and inaccurate.”
Stringer has also been a staunch critic of Governor Andrew Cuomo after the head of state’s slew of sexual misconduct allegations and has repeatedly called for the Governor to step down. However, Stringer said that the two cases are not comparable, repeatedly asserting that she was not a subordinate, but instead a volunteer.
“She never worked for me, she was never paid by me,” Stringer said, in response to comments that Kim was paid $35, as was reported in his Comptroller campaign finance filings.
Cuomo, on the other hand, Stringer said, has had multiple allegations that show the governor’s abuse of power. He underscored that throughout his private and political life, he has conducted himself with integrity and honesty.
“[Cuomo] has been accused of multiple instances of abusing his office, I do believe that this instance is under the same category and I am here to tell you that what was described today simply is not true,” Stringer said.
Not everyone believed Stringer.
Manhattan borough president candidate Lindsey Boylan, who was the first to accuse Governor Cuomo of sexual assault, called out Stringer’s response to the allegations as gas-lighting a sexual assault survivor.
“I believe Jean Kim and applaud her courage in coming forward today. Women are not the tools of selfish, powerful men. And we will remake the culture so that is clear. New York Democrats must build a better world from our ranks and hold our own accountable. That means Scott Stringer must resign as comptroller and drop out of the race for New York City mayor. I identify with Jean’s fear that her career could have been sabotaged had she come forward earlier, and I am disgusted by the Stringer campaign’s gasl-ighting response. I am sending my love to all survivors, whether they have come forward or not, who may feel triggered by today’s news,” Boylan said in a statement.
Whether or not the claims are true are yet to be seen. Nevertheless, the damage to his mayoral campaign could be irreparable.
As Stringer and wife Buxbaum left the conference — again holding hands — left the conference, a passerby heckled the politician, yelling: “Women’s lives Matter, drop out of the race!”