New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo has on Wednesday publicly addressed sexual harassment allegations recently made by three women against him.
He apologised for remarks he said “made people feel uncomfortable” but declared that he would not be resigning as demanded by many New Yorkers, NBC reports.
Over the past week, two former aides accused him of sexual harassment as well as a guest at a wedding who did not work for him.
Then the third person alleged inappropriate behavior with a photo of the governor holding her face as she said he attempted a kiss.
In his first televised remarks since the multiple claims became public, Cuomo stated;
I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign.
After delivering a lengthy briefing on the state of pandemic, Cuomo turned his attention to the allegations of harassment.
I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this. First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward. And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional. And I truly and deeply apologize for it.
I feel awful about it. And frankly, I am embarrassed by it. And that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth. But this is what I want you to know, and I want you to know this from me directly. I never touched anyone inappropriately.
The Governor then pled for New Yorkers “to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion.”
I’m sorry, I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone. I never intended it and I will be the better for this experience. I certainly never meant to offend anyone or cause anyone any pain. This is the last thing I would ever want to do.
I ask the people of the state to wait for the facts from the Attorney General’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts please.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is undertaking an investigation into the allegations.
Drama began on Monday. The week before, a former aide Lindsey Boylan in a blog post accused the governor of advances including an unwanted kiss and an invitation to play strip poker.
Following this, New York Times published an interview of another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, who said the governor had harassed her and made several inappropriate remarks about her sex life last year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She left the administration in November.
This week, the Times reported that Anna Ruch, who had not met Cuomo before crossing paths with him at a New York City wedding in 2019, said the Governor touched her lower back with his hand, which Ruch removed. She claimed Cuomo then placed his hands on her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her.
“I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” Ruch told the publication, which ran a photo showing Cuomo with both hands on Ruch’s cheeks at the event.
Cuomo responded to Ruch’s account and the photo evidence of it, saying that there are “hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with many people.”
He defended his action, saying;
Women, men, children, etcetera. You can find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. Men, women. It is my customary way of greeting. You know that because you’ve watched me for more years.
By the way, it was my father’s way [Former Gov. Mario Cuomo] way of greeting people. You want people to feel comfortable, you reach out to them.
During his press briefing, Cuomo said he now understands his “intent” is not relevant, stressing;
What matters is if anyone was offended by it — and I could intend no offense — but if they were offended by it then it was wrong. And if they were hurt by it then I apologize. And if they felt pain from it, then I apologize. I didn’t intend it, I didn’t mean it that way.