New York Mayor Adams says 1993 sexual assault allegation detailed in new lawsuit 'did not happen'

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NEW YORK (AP) — In his first public comments since a former colleague sued him for sexual assault, New York City Mayor Eric Adams vehemently denied the allegations, insisting he did not remember ever meeting the woman who says he attacked her in a parked car more than three decades ago.

Adams, a Democrat, was accused Monday of demanding oral sex from a police aide in 1993 in exchange for his help advancing her career. When she refused, he exposed himself to her and started masturbating, according to the lawsuit.

“This didn’t happen,” Adams said at the start of his weekly media briefing Tuesday. “I don’t recall meeting the person. That is not who I am as a person.”

Characterizing the allegations as an unwelcome “distraction,” Adams said he was confident the lawsuit would not upend his mayoralty.

"I want to say to New Yorkers that I'm going to continue doing my job of navigating the city out of crisis," he said, before offering a twist on an oft-repeated mantra: “Stay focused, no distractions and grind, and the legal team will handle the other aspects of this.”

Though the actions described in the lawsuit long predates his time in city government, the mayor said he would be represented by a taxpayer-funded attorneys with the city's Law Department.

The head of that office, Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix, jumped in multiple times during Tuesday's briefing to stop the mayor from responding to specific questions about the alleged assault, telling reporters: “I would rather him not give you what his view is."

Adams has denied the allegations since a woman filed legal notice previewing her intent to sue last November. The lawsuit filed in Manhattan court Monday included substantial new details about the alleged assault and the accuser, who spent years working as an administrative aide in the city’s transit police bureau.

After she was repeatedly passed over for a promotion, she said she sought guidance from Adams, then a transit police officer and an outspoken member of the Guardians Association, a fraternal organization that advocates for Black members of law enforcement.

He offered her a ride to her home in Brooklyn, but he drove her instead to a vacant lot, where he promised to help her career, but said he “also needed some help," according to the lawsuit. When she denied his overtures, he pushed her hand onto his penis, then began masturbating, the lawsuit claims.

Since the lawsuit was filed, mayoral aides have circulated statements released by allies of Adams noting the accuser's history of filing lawsuits — many of which were dismissed — and a previous book she wrote detailing how a person can represent themselves in court.

Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, a state assembly member and chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, said that as a victim of sexual assault herself, she supports accusers coming forward.

“Although I take allegations of this nature extremely seriously, the claims against our mayor raise eyebrows, due to the defendant claiming on record she is so litigious that she’s written a book on how to win lawsuits — and has filed over a dozen unsuccessfully,” she added.

The Associated Press does not typically identify alleged victims of sexual assault in stories unless they consent to being named. The woman's attorney, Megan Goddard, asked that the AP not publish her name.

Goddard said her client expects to face significant personal challenges as a result of the lawsuit, but “she believes sexual abusers must be held to account, no matter who they are.”