Claims of sexual harassment against the former regional president of Empire State Development Corporation have been dismissed by a Manhattan court.
After six years in the economic development post, Sam Hoyt announced in October 2017 he was leaving to explore opportunities in the private sector. However, it then came to light that his former girlfriend - Lisa Marie Cater - was suing Hoyt, Empire State Development and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the sexual harassment, threats and retailiation she claimed to endure after an extramarital affair with Hoyt.
At the heart of Tuesday's dismissal was $50,000 Cater accepted as part of a confidentiality agreement to keep the affair quiet. Hoyt does not deny the payment. The court found that the agreement also waived her right to future action against Hoyt.
Cater alleged she was under "duress," "incapacity," "involuntariness," "misrepresentation" and "undue influence" when she signed the agreement, given Hoyt had helped her get a patronage job at the state Department of Motor Vehicles through his "political clout."
The court also cited Hoyt's lack of authority as her supervisor as a reason to dismiss her claims of harassment. Likewise, the court dismissed the claims against Empire State Development.
Last summer, the state's Joint Commission on Public Ethics - whose commissioners are mostly appointed by the governor - also found no evidence of harassment. The complaint against Cuomo was dropped, as well.
WBFO reached out to Hoyt for comment. He directed us to his attorney handling the case, Carrie Cohen. She provided the following statement:
“Now that the Court has dismissed the complaint with prejudice and after a thorough and complete investigation, JCOPE found the plaintiff’s allegations to be without merit and based in part on fabricated evidence, Mr. Hoyt can finally put this matter behind him,” Cohen said.
Cater may still appeal.
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