NEW YORK -- A veteran New York City politician filed a defamation lawsuit Monday against a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct, claiming the decades-old allegation was false and derailed his campaign for mayor.
Former state Assembly member and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer says in his lawsuit filed in state court in Manhattan that Jean Kim "smeared Mr. Stringer’s integrity and reputation" in April 2021 when she accused him of groping her without consent some 20 years earlier.
At the time Kim made her accusation, Stringer was among the leaders in the crowded field seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed then-Mayor Bill de Blasio.
But Stringer plunged in the polls after the accusation from Kim, who was a volunteer on Stringer's unsuccessful 2001 campaign for New York City public advocate during the time of the alleged misconduct. Eric Adams won last year's Democratic mayoral nomination and went on to win the November general election.
Stringer, 62, says in his lawsuit that he and Kim had an on-and-off consensual relationship in 2001 and that her accusations of assault and unwanted groping are false and defamatory.
New York's one-year statute of limitations for defamation presents a challenge for Stringer, who is suing over accusations that Kim made a year and a half ago. In a bid to get around the time limit, the lawsuit alleges that Kim's defamatory claims resurfaced as recently as August 2022, when Rep. Carolyn Maloney “weaponized Kim's allegations” during Maloney's unsuccessful Democratic primary campaign against Rep. Jerry Nadler, a mentor to Stringer.
The lawsuit says Kim was seen at a Maloney campaign event on Aug. 3 and that “it was reasonably foreseeable that after Kim met with and spoke to Maloney at her campaign event, her false and defamatory statements would be repeated.”
Maloney later accused Nadler of campaigning “with a man accused of sexual assault,” a clear reference to Stringer, according to a New York Post article cited in the lawsuit.
An email seeking comment was sent to Kim's attorney, Patricia Pastor.
If the lawsuit succeeds it could pave the way for a political comeback by Stringer, who until this year had been in elective office continuously since first winning a state Assembly seat in 1992.