An upstate New York woman claims that she suffered relentless sexual harassment by a married Cuomo economic development aide who abruptly resigned last month.
Lisa Marie Cater says in a blistering federal court lawsuit that Sam Hoyt forcefully kissed and groped her during multiple unwanted visits to her home, sent her naked pictures of himself and even grabbed her crotch.
“You know this is what I want!” he hissed while squeezing her private parts at a local park, the complaint says.
Cater, 51, says she endured the abuse for nearly a year in part because she was too afraid to speak out against the man who got her a job at the DMV.
At the time, Hoyt was the head of the Buffalo office for the Empire State Development Corp.
Cater finally complained to Cuomo’s office about her treatment at the hands of Hoyt — on at least six occasions — but was only met with hostility and indifference, the complaint says.
“The state of New York owes us answers as to why the cries of a sexual harassment victim fell on deaf ears,” said Cater’s lawyer Paul Liggieri.
Cuomo’s office countered that the state launched three separate probes into the case — and continued investigating even after Cater stopped cooperating.
“The facts alleged in this complaint regarding Mr. Hoyt were not provided to state investigators and in many cases contradict the public allegations made in the last several weeks,” said Cuomo chief Alphonso David.
The tawdry affair was set in motion in October 2015 when Cater, a domestic abuse survivor, was in jeopardy of losing her apartment.
Cater reached out to the Empire State Development Corp. for help, the suit says.
To Cater’s surprise, the reply email that landed in her inbox came directly from Hoyt, who she had met at a 2008 fundraiser.
Hoyt touted his powerful position and close ties to Gov. Cuomo as he promised to secure her a job with the DMV, the suit says.
Even before Cater began working there as a secretary in February 2016, her relationship with Hoyt had turned toxic.
He repeatedly showed up at her house and barraged her with text messages — all the while reminding her that he could make her job disappear, the suit says.
The same month Cater got the job, Hoyt sent her a nude photo of himself. “Do you think I look tan?” he wrote, the suit says.
The image made Cater “shake uncontrollably” — “adding to her symptoms of depression and anxiety,” the suit says.
With Hoyt ignoring her repeated pleas to be left alone, Cater reached out to Cuomo’s office for help through phone calls, an email and a Facebook message, the suit says.
She received no response. Hoyt, who was outed in 2008 for having a two-year affair with a 23-year-old student intern, told her that he had spoken to the governor’s office and was instructed to “make this go away.” Cater later agreed to Hoyt’s offer of $50,000 in exchange for her silence, the suit says.
Hoyt resigned in late October amid a state investigation.
David said Cater stopped cooperating while the Inspector General’s Office was investigating the complaint. Cuomo’s lawyer also denied that any state rep told Hoyt to make the matter “go away.”
Hoyt’s lawyer Terrence Conors did not return a request for comment.
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