On Saturday, November 18, documents were filed by a former state Department of Motor Vehicles employee in Manhattan federal court alleging that a former top-level political appointee of Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed her.
Lisa Marie Cater of Buffalo claims that her complaints that former regional president of New York State’s economic development agency William “Sam” Hoyt raped and groped her were repeatedly ignored by the Cuomo administration.
In a statement released on Sunday, November 19, Cuomo’s chief counsel Alphonso David said that the state has “launched 3 separate investigations into this matter, and any assertion to the contrary is patently and demonstrably false.”
Hoyt’s lawyer Terrence M. Connors said that his client “has previously acknowledged and expressed regret for a short term, consensual relationship with Ms. Cater.” However, Connors said that the allegations in her lawsuit are “inconsistent.”
In an email to Newsday, Connors said, “If she persists with this lawsuit, we will seek dismissal at the earliest stage.”
According to Newsday, “Cater, 51, alleges in her lawsuit that the ‘barrage’ of sexual harassment started soon after October 2015 when Hoyt, 55, a high-level officer at Empire State Development, offered to help her secure an apartment and a state job after she sought help from the agency. In February 2016, Hoyt helped Cater get a job as a secretary in a $30,000-a-year position at an Erie County DMV office, according to the lawsuit.”
The suit claims that “every single night” she would get calls and texts from Hoyt, often threatening that if she didn’t do what he wanted then the job he helped her secure could be “taken away with a single phone call.”
According to the lawsuit, Hoyt sent Cater a naked photo of himself in February 2016, and asked her “Do you think I look tan?” Cater says that she “began to shake uncontrollably after receiving this text, adding to her symptoms of depression and anxiety,” says the court documents.
The lawsuit claims that after Cater complained to Hoyt about his behavior in August 2016, he allegedly groped her crotch and said, “You know this is what I want!”
The lawsuit claims that Cater tried complaining to Cuomo’s office by email, phone and Facebook, and received no answer or a response that was “deliberately indifferent.”
In a statement, David said, “When Ms. Cater reported a complaint regarding Mr. Hoyt, per protocol it was immediately referred to the State Employee Relations Office (GOER) for an investigation. At the same time Mr. Hoyt was instructed to have no further interaction with the complainant and to cooperate fully with the investigation. Mr. Hoyt did not supervise or work in the same agency as Ms. Cater.”
By Rebecca Gold