November 20, 2017 / 12:26 AM / a year ago

Former New York state official sued over alleged sex harassment

(Reuters) - A former New York state employee has filed a federal lawsuit alleging she was sexually harassed by a onetime political appointee of Governor Andrew Cuomo, part of a wave of such accusations leveled in recent weeks against public figures.

Lisa Cater, a former Department of Motor Vehicles employee, filed suit in Manhattan’s federal court against William Hoyt, a former regional head of the state’s economic development agency, as well as Cuomo, the agency and New York state.

The lawsuit, filed on Saturday, contends that the Cuomo administration ignored repeated complaints by her against Hoyt, a married former state assemblyman. She said Hoyt had groped her and made numerous unwanted sexual advances for about a year starting in November 2015.

Hoyt, who Cuomo appointed to the development post in 2011, stepped down in late October as the state conducted an investigation. His attorney, Terrence Connors, did not respond to a request for comment.

Connors told the Newsday newspaper his client “has previously acknowledged and expressed regret for a short term, consensual relationship with Ms. Cater,” but called the allegations in her lawsuit “inconsistent.”

“If she persists with this lawsuit, we will seek dismissal at the earliest stage,” Newsday quoted Connors as saying in an e-mail.

Alphonso David, Cuomo’s chief counsel, said in an emailed statement that New York state had launched three investigations into the Buffalo resident’s allegations against Hoyt, a former regional president of the Empire State Development Corp.

“Any assertion to the contrary is patently and demonstrably false, and as such, we expect this matter to be summarily dismissed,” David said.

The lawsuit alleges that Boyd sent Cater sexually harassing text messages, phone calls and emails after arranging a secretarial job for her at the Motor Vehicles Department in late 2015.

Cater agreed to a $50,000 payment from Hoyt in late 2016 as part of an settlement that included staying quiet about his alleged harassment, it said.

Cater’s suit is one of the latest in a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct against an increasing number of political and entertainment figures.

A radio broadcaster last week accused Democratic U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota of groping her and forcing a kiss on her in 2006. Roy Moore, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, has been accused of having sexual contact with teenage girls decades ago.

Franken has apologized and Moore has denied the accusations.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Mary Milliken

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