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NYC Comptroller, Mayoral Candidate Scott Stringer Accused Of Groping Former Intern

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A woman who says she worked for New York City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer two decades ago is now accusing him of sexual misconduct.

Surrounded by supporters holding signs calling for Stringer's resignation, Jean Kim told reporters she volunteered for his campaign for public advocate in 2001. At the time, she was 30 and he was 41.

Jean Kim
Jean Kim, who says she worked for New York City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer two decades ago, is now accusing him of sexual misconduct. (CBS2)

"During this campaign, I traveled back-and-forth to campaign events with him. Scott Stringer repeatedly groped me, put his hands on my thighs and between my legs and demanded to know why I wouldn't have sex with him," Kim said Wednesday. "He kept saying, 'Why won't you f*** me? Why won't you f*** me?'"

Stringer unequivocally denies the charges, saying they had a consensual relationship that lasted a few months.

"This isn't me. I didn't do this," Stringer said.

Kim worked as a paid public relations executive while working as an unpaid volunteer on Stringer's campaign for public advocate in 2001.

Campaign finance records show she continued to make contributions to his campaigns from 2009 to 2013 and even asked him for a job. She was denied.

Why did she come forward now, seven weeks before the Democratic mayoral primary?

"When I saw him being, touting how he was a make-believe champion for a woman's rights, that is really what put me over the top," Kim said.

Stringer, walking to the press conference with his wife, Elyse, admitted he and Kim had an on-again, off-again relationship for a few months that he said was totally consensual.

"I'm going to fight for the truth because these allegations are false. The behavior described is inaccurate and completely antithetical to the way I have conducted my life," Stringer said.

Stringer's wife, Elyse Buxbaum, admitted she herself was a victim of sexual abuse, claiming she never would have married Stringer if he was an abuser.

"I chose Scott because I felt safe with him, safe in a way I didn't know possible," she said.

The question of the day is the effect on the mayoral primary, which is seven weeks away.

"The later a charge surfaces, the harder it is to make it go away because you just don't have the time to pivot and go back to the issues you want to talk about," David Birdsell, of Baruch College, told CBS2's Marcia Kramer.

Birdsell says Stringer's success running for mayor may depend on whether his progressive supporters stick with him.

Several of Stringer's opponents called for him to quit the race. He said no way.

Mayoral candidates Dianne Morales, Kathryn Garcia, Maya Wiley and Eric Adams released statements of their own Wednesday, expressing their support for Kim.

Morales' statement:

"I stand with and support Jean Kim. My entire team does.

I'm a survivor surrounded by strong femme leadership on my campaign, many of whom are survivors themselves. To be honest, I'm still processing this news myself and spent most of last night checking in on them and holding space for our collective grief and pain.

Right now, I'm not focused on Scott Stringer. I'm focused on the woman of color who has to endure public scrutiny as she speaks her truth about the harm she's experienced. I have been consistent that we need to believe survivors, and that doesn't change today. I thank Jean for bravery in speaking out and coming forward. And I offer compassion to her for what she has endured, and what is yet to come. I stand with her, and her demands for justice."

Garcia's statement:

"It takes tremendous courage for anyone to come forward. I support Jean Kim, I believe Jean Kim, and I commend her bravery for speaking truth to power. We know that the path for survivors who come forward is often fraught with further pain and relentless scrutiny, and we owe it to survivors to take these accusations seriously.

Scott Stringer should stand by his own policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment and drop out of the mayoral race. New Yorkers need and deserve a mayor they can trust, who demonstrates steady, competent, and capable leadership. It is clear that Scott Stringer is not that person and that we need more women in leadership and elected office."

Wiley's statement:

"Scott Stringer must immediately account for this abuse of a campaign intern, including the unwanted advances and the dangling of jobs. This is truly disturbing.

Jean Kim, who was a junior member of his team at the time, has told a credible and disturbing story of unwanted sexual contact with a powerful man with power over her career. I believe her and admire her strength and courage to come forward to tell her story. According to reports, Stringer has admitted to sexual contact he is claiming was consensual.

Like others who spoke out about Governor Cuomo this year, she is telling her story at great personal and professional risk. What she did today was not easy, and what she is about to endure is very hard. That's why we must focus on her and on supporting survivors as we have this difficult discussion.

The behavior, as Kim describes it, is a sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment. Furthermore, she says that she was driven to silence from telling her story. That is an act we've seen far too often: men who use positions of power over women to intimidate them. Then, after the abuse happens, they warn them to not tell anyone about it.

For too long, women have been harassed and bullied at their jobs and we are sick of it. Sadly, these types of stories are far too prevalent in our society and our politics. It feels like every month, we've got another elected official going to jail, being accused of harassment or abusing the public's trust. It's no wonder people lose trust in government when government looks like this.

The people of New York just deserve better than this."

Adams' statement:

"Women must be heard. These are deeply troubling allegations of assault and I take them seriously. I want to recognize Jean Kim for her courage and bravery today. We must ensure that anyone who believes they were harassed, assaulted or treated in an unacceptable manner can come forward safely and be heard."

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