NYC Mayor Adams vows to not be distracted by sex assault claim, says city lawyers will address it: ‘Stuff happens’

NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams vehemently denied accusations Tuesday that he sexually assaulted a coworker in his car decades ago and vowed not to be distracted by the shocking claim — as his administration’s top attorney defended using city government attorneys to represent the mayor in the matter.

In his first public remarks since his ex-Transit Police Department co-worker, Lorna Beach-Mathura, filed a lawsuit against him over the sex assault allegations, Adams said in an afternoon briefing he’s saddened by the impact the accusations are having on his family.

“This did not happen. It’s not who I am … I know my character, and I’m extremely disappointed that Tracey and Jordan are going through this,” he said at City Hall, referring to his girlfriend Tracey Collins and adult son Jordan Coleman.

While repeatedly denying the alleged assault took place, Adams was more circumspect about whether he has ever met Beach-Mathura, saying only he could “not recall” meeting her.

“Stuff happens, you know, and you better be ready to have a motto that you can live by, like ‘stay focused, no distractions, and grind,'” he said when asked if he’s concerned the assault accusation could distract him from his official duties.

“The legal team will handle the other aspects of this stuff,” he added, referring to the city Law Department, which is expected to represent him in the Manhattan Supreme Court case brought by Beach-Mathura.

The decision by the mayor to have the Law Department represent him has raised some hackles, including from City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, the Democratic chairwoman of the Council’s Oversight and Investigations Committee.

“This needs scrutiny,” Brewer, whose committee has authority to probe the use of city resources, wrote on X in November after Adams first revealed he planned to let the Law Department represent him against Beach-Mathura. At the time, Beach-Mathura had filed a brief court notice alerting the mayor she planned to sue him for sexual assault, without revealing any details about the accusation.

Sylvia Hinds-Radix, the city corporation counsel who leads the Law Department, joined the mayor for Tuesday’s briefing and confirmed city taxpayers are expected to pick up the tab for the mayor’s legal representation in the sexual assault case.

“The mayor is not getting any special treatment, he is being treated the way he’s entitled to, and that’s why there’s representation here,” Hinds-Radix said.

Hinds-Radix said Adams is entitled to Law Department representation because of a local rule that holds city employees can get city lawyers to do their bidding in court if the alleged wrongdoing “occurred while the employee was acting within the scope of his public employment.”

In her lawsuit filed Monday, Beach-Mathura alleges Adams was on duty as a transit cop when he exposed himself to her in his car in 1993 and demanded she perform oral sex on him in exchange for helping her with an employment issue. After she refused, Beach-Mathura’s suit claims Adams forced her hand onto his erect penis before he ejaculated on her leg.

The rule that allows municipal employees to be represented by city attorneys also says the Law Department can deny representation if a worker was “in violation of any rule or regulation of his agency” at the time of the alleged wrongdoing.

The Law Department has declined to represent other city police officers accused of committing sexual misconduct while on the job. When asked what’s different about the mayor’s case, Hinds-Radix would only say her agency made the “determination” that he’s entitled to representation.

“There’s a process that we use with reference to how we make this evaluation. We made the same evaluation in this case, and we will stick to our position,” Hinds-Radix said.

Megan Goddard, Beach-Mathura’s attorney, did not return a request for comment on the latest remarks from the mayor and Hinds-Radix.

At a press conference held shortly after the mayor’s briefing, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams described the allegations against him as “very serious” and said “it’s really important that they’re fully reviewed.”

Asked whether she believes it’s appropriate for the mayor to receive Law Department representation, the speaker said: “We’re going to review all of this in relation to the law and details of the civil lawsuit.”