Mayoral Democratic primary candidate Maya Wiley is calling on Scott Stringer to withdraw from the race a day after a woman accused Stringer of sexual harassment more than two decades ago.
"It is time for Scott Stringer to remove himself from this race," Wiley said Thursday, speaking to reporters outside Borough Hall in Brooklyn. "Let's be honest, right now in New York City we cannot afford a distraction."
Wiley is one of three women running in the race and she is the latest mayoral candidate to call for Stringer to leave the campaign. On Wednesday, Shaun Donovan and Kathryn Garcia also said he should no longer seek the nomination.
Stringer was accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching Jean Kim, a woman who says she was a campaign intern during his failed 2001 bid for public advocate.
Kim, a government lobbyist, said Stringer made unwanted sexual advances and at one point offered her a political position as a district leader so she wouldn’t talk about the incident. Kim alleges she feared retaliation at the time, and is coming forward with her story 20 years later because Stringer is now running for mayor.
Stringer has denied the allegations, saying he and Kim had a brief consensual relationship. He has also disputed that she was ever an intern on his campaign, noting she donated to different races.
“I met Jean in the late 1990s. She was a peer. Around the time of my campaign, we had an on and off relationship over several months,” Stringer said Wednesday during a press conference shortly after Kim detailed her experience. “She was 30, and I was 41. I believe it was a mutual, consensual relationship."
In her remarks, Wiley specifically criticized Stringer for saying that the relationship with Kim was consensual. She said that ultimately it's women — not men — who decide if a sexual relationship is consensual.
"In the best case scenario in the story is that Scott Stringer doesn't understand when someone says no," Wiley said. "There is simply no man who can tell a woman whether or not she has consented to a sexual relationship — that is not how it works.”
Speaking at a campaign event in the Bronx Thursday, Stringer said he plans to stay in the race and let voters decide the final outcome in June.
“I am in the race all the way. I have no intention of going anywhere except City Hall to rebuild New York City," he said.
Some of Stringer’s highest profile supporters have distanced themselves from the campaign, including State Sen. Jessica Ramos, who rescinded her endorsement on Wednesday.