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Asian American woman defies politician running for NYC mayor

By Ti-Hua Chang

Exclusive:

In her first interview since 2021, when she claimed publicly that she had been sexually assaulted,  Jean Kim tells AsAmNews that she refuses to be silenced because of what her coming forward means for women in politics and especially women of color.  She says she refuses to be silenced by her alleged attacker — once powerful New York politician Scott Stringer.

“Since two years ago, when I came out and spoke my truth It has been difficult, but I have managed to somehow move forward with my life. I’ve gotten married. I have a new nonprofit job. … I went to therapy that helped me,… and I’m trying to move on.” In her affidavit responding to Stringer’s defamation lawsuit against her, Kim said, “I believe he has no legitimate reason for this lawsuit, and that he is suing me to punish me for my constitutionally protected speech, and to prevent me from speaking out any further on this subject.”

Stringer, who was once the city’s comptroller reviewing its roughly 100-billion-dollar budget, was a leading candidate for New York City Mayor in 2021. His campaign, though, was derailed when Kim accused him of sexually assaulting her in 2001 when she volunteered on his campaign for Public Advocate.

In her affidavit responding to Stringer’s defamation lawsuit against her, Kim alleged Stringer, “…while riding in a cab, he rested his hand on my knee. I was wearing a skirt, and he slid his hand up my bare leg slightly and pulled it toward him, … afraid to confront him. I didn’t want to lose my position on the
campaign, and I felt he could hurt my career and my future.”

“One evening, after a rally, the campaign team went to a bar on the West side… I noticed everyone else from our group had left. STRINGER suddenly leaned forward and kissed me on the mouth. I tensed up. He then kissed me again using his tongue, and I felt his cold hand reaching down the back of my pants. His hand touched my skin beneath my underwear. I was stunned and I pulled away. I just said we had to get an early start the next day, hoping it would divert his attention. He then said, “don’t tell anyone about this,” and left the bar.”…The next time we spoke one-to-one, he mentioned that he could help me become “the first Asian District Leader.”

STRINGER DENIAL & DEFAMATION LAWSUIT

Stringer denied Kim’s accusations claiming they had a consensual relationship and in December of 2022 he filed a defamation lawsuit against Kim.   A Manhattan Supreme Court judge threw out the defamation lawsuit, because it was filed too late. Kim believes Stringer may be trying to silence her by appealing that decision forcing her back into court. She says she cannot afford the legal fees.  

Kim, who works for non-profits and manages a standup comedy club, says she “cannot afford to keep going to court.”   Her sister, a lawyer, now represents her on most of her legal cases even though Kim’s sister is unpaid and does not do this type of legal work.  

In her exclusive interview with AsAmNews Kim said , “I talked to other women, sexual assault survivors, and they said that when you’re mired in a lawsuit … it just extends the abuse and … what we lived in and we saw, that was one of the reasons I said, Oh my god, I definitely don’t want to be involved in a lawsuit …but then because he blindsided me with this defamation suit. I mean, today is actually like a year anniversary of when he first filed a defamation suit. It blindsided me… so for the past year, on and off the emotional, mental anguish has continued.”

KIM’S SISTER: STRINGER’S LAWYERS OFFERED A DEAL

Jean Kim’s sister, Susan, says Stringer’s attorneys contacted her two weeks ago and indirectly suggested he might drop the defamation lawsuit if jean would reveal who put her up to the accusation inferring it was a political rival. “ I said my sister does not lie and will not do so,” recounted Susan Kim to AsAmNews.  In a statement she added, “With no evidence in nearly three years it takes an audacious ignorance to continue to promote a conspiracy theory.”

The lead attorney for Stringer, Milton Williams, told AsAmNews in a telephone interview that attorney Kim’s “…statement that we would just drop the lawsuit, that ‘s not 100% accurate, but we had a conversation, like we do in any case, to see if there’s a way of resolving it. One of the thoughts was we ‘d like to learn the identities of those who put her up to this.

KIM PREDICTED STRINGER WOULD RUN FOR MAYOR AGAIN

In December, Jean Kim predicted Scott Stringer would appeal the decision to dismiss his case, because he wanted to run for Mayor. Two weeks ago Stringer registered a campaign committee to consider running for Mayor and is seeking funds to do so.

STRINGER RESPONDS TO KIM’S ACCUSATION

Stringer responded to Kim’s allegations telling AsAmNews in a telephone interview last week, “There has been no corroboration of anything she said. She attempted to destroy my family and also destroyed our democratic mayoral election. We will continue to battle her in court. We will seek redress in court.”

In June of 2021 the New York Times reported that another woman, Teresa Logan, accused Stringer of groping her in 1992 when she worked at a bar he owned. The Times reported that Stringer denied the accusation claiming that he had ”no memory of her,”  quoting Stringer, “ ‘ If, in fact, I met Ms. Logan, and ever did anything to make her uncomfortable, I am sorry,’ he said.”

POLITICAL ANALYSTS SAY IT’S ABOUT $ AND TRUTH

Political Strategist Hank Sheinkopf says Jean Kim’s case comes down to a battle between a rich opponent and a poor opponent.

“You are likely not to be able to go forward with any kind of dignity, because you won’t have the cash to compete. So it gets down to money…she has none;  he has a lot.”

Baruch College political science professor Thomas Halper notes that the #metoo movement impact on candidates has lessened since 2021, adding, “How would she establish something that happened 20 years ago …she can say it and that’s good enough to hurt the person you’re charging, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.”

TRIAL ATTORNEY PREDICTS KIM WOULD BEAT DEFAMATION LAWSUIT

Noted trial attorney Linda Kenney Baden believes Jean Kim would eventually prevail against Stringer’s appeal of his defamation case citing three reasons: 1) courts are strict on the statute of limitations requirement 2) there ‘s no evidence offered that Jean Kim was involved in any republication of the allegations as Stringer’s defamation case argues and 3) most defamation cases are not successful.

Jean Kim did file a civil lawsuit in March of 2023 under New York State’s Adult Survivors Act against Stringer. That act allowed a one-year legal opening for someone alleging sexual assault to file lawsuit against the alleged attacker regardless of when the alleged assault occurred. If her case goes to court, possibly with a lawyer taking it on contingency, a jury might decide who is telling the truth.

Jean Kim states that she has a GoFundMe page for her legal expenses (an estimated $20,000) and wishes she could get on with her life yet worries what Scott Stringer might do in a position as powerful as Mayor of New York City, which is what, she says, prompted her initially to come forward three years ago.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

1 COMMENT

  1. Sexual predators can come in all shapes, sizes, and parties! We should never elect them to public office. Often voters think they can separate the art from the artist and that their sexual behavior has nothing to do with their abilities in office…. They are way off base. Exploitation of others in their private lives reveals a basic, sinister sense of entitlement that is pervasive in their character. Don’t elect sexual predators to office! And only elect candidates who pledge to stop rape culture by defining CONSENT correctly in our laws. Candidates can show sincere intent to do so by pledging to support bill #A7523, Defining Consent, in NY State! Ask every candidate, “Will you #CodifyConsent if elected?”

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