Former State Official Accused of Sexually Harassing Secretary
A lawsuit has been filed against William Hoyt by a former New York state employee. Lisa Cater, a former Department of Motor Vehicles staff member, filed the suit in Manhattan’s federal court on Saturday accusing Hoyt, a married, former regional head of New York’s economic development agency, of sexually harassing her on multiple occasions. She also held Governor Andrew Cuomo, the agency and state of New York itself accountable.
Cater’s filing states that the Cuomo administration ignored her repeated complaints regarding Hoyt’s misbehavior. She alleged Hoyt groped her frequently and made numerous other unwanted advances for about a year beginning in November 2015. Hoyt was appointed by Governor Cuomo to the development position in 2011. He stepped down in late October while the state conducted an investigation.
Terrence Connors, Hoyt’s attorney, said his client, “previously acknowledged and expressed regret for a short-term, consensual relationship with Ms. Cater,” but said the “new allegations are totally inconsistent with her original story and contradicted by her own email and text message correspondence.” Connors added, “If she persists with this lawsuit, we will seek dismissal at the earliest stage.”
Paul Liggieri, Cater’s attorney, stated, “I would not describe [their initial interactions] as consensual, rather I would describe it as a friendly relationship” at the start.
Cater alleged that Hoyt sent her sexually harassing communications, including text messages, phone calls, and emails after helping her secure her secretarial job at the Motor Vehicles Department in late 2015. The lawsuit also says Hoyt used his political power to dish out patronage jobs and then to “seduce, manipulate, sexually harass and sexually assault the Plaintiff without any repercussions.’’ Cater claimed to have agreed to a $50,000 payment from Hoyt in late 2016 as part of a deal that included staying quiet about the harassment.
Cuomo’s chief counsel, Alphonso David, confirmed that the state of New York launched three separate investigations into Cater’s allegations, and denies that any state official ever offered her any such payment. “Any allegation that anyone offered the complainant a bribe is divorced from reality and is contradictory to the state commencing three investigations,’’ David said. He added that there is no evidence at all that Cuomo was sexually harassing Cater or involved in any wayLi, either.
Liggieri argued, “As her attorney, I can tell you that the evidence shows and the record will show that Samuel Hoyt and the state of New York must be held accountable for their actions… Unfortunately for Miss Cater, she was left to fend for herself as the sexual harassment continued.”
John Milgrim, spokesperson for the New York Inspector General, said the office’s chief investigator spoke with Cater on Nov. 30, 2016. “He asked her several times to come in for an interview and she refused,” Milgrim said. “She was also asked over the phone for information regarding her complaint and she failed to provide. The matter remains open.”
“It has been very difficult for me to come forward with this, and I have faith that the system of justice will prevail and not another woman has to live through what I went through,” Cater explained in her defense.