Woman files lawsuit against Hoyt over sexual harassment allegations

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- News 4 has confirmed the woman accusing former state official Sam Hoyt of sexual harassment has now filed a federal lawsuit against Hoyt and Governor Cuomo.

Lisa Marie Cater took a public stand in New York City on Sunday, a day after filing the suit.

“It has been very difficult for me to come forward with this and I have faith that this system of justice will prevail and not another woman has to go through what I went through,” she said.

Hoyt was appointed by Gov. Cuomo to lead Empire State Development Corporation in Buffalo. He stepped down last month.

The Governor’s office confirmed in October that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) was investigating the harassment claims.

Cater, the 51-year-old woman at the center of this case, is a former state worker.

She claims Hoyt helped her get a state job in 2016. Their relationship started consensual she said but then he started to send her a constant stream of emails, texts and calls. Cater says Hoyt groped and kissed her without her permission.

“He used that position of power to unlawfully and egregiously manipulate my client and sexually harass her,” said Paul Liggieri, Cater’s attorney. “When she thought her cries for help would be heard by the State of New York, those cries fell on deaf ears, not once, not twice but over five times.”

In this new lawsuit, she says the Governor’s office was dismissive of her harassment reports.

Hoyt has told News 4 in the past that the relationship was inappropriate but consensual. He denies harassing the woman.

We have reached out to Hoyt’s lawyer, Terry Connors, for a response to the latest lawsuit.

Connors sent us a statement saying, “Sam has previously acknowledged and expressed regret for a short term, consensual relationship with Ms. Cater. These new allegations are totally inconsistent with her original story and contradicted by her own email and text message correspondence. If she persists with this lawsuit, we will seek dismissal at the earliest stage. In the meantime,  Sam will continue to fully cooperate with any state agency that is looking into this matter.”

Alphonso David, the Counsel to the Governor, told News 4 the state launched three separate investigations into the allegations “and any assertion to the contrary is patently and demonstrable false, and as such, we expect this matter to be summarily dismissed.”

The statement goes on to say, “All state employees deserve to be treated with respect. We address every allegation of sexual harassment seriously and will continue to take all steps to detect and root out this unacceptable behavior.‎”

A spokesperson for the Governor’s Office told News 4 the State Inspector General and JCOPE are both still investigating the woman’s claims.


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