Governor Andrew Cuomo directly addressed multiple allegations of sexual harassment on Wednesday, saying he never meant to “offend” or “hurt” anyone but dismissing calls for him to resign.
During a Wednesday press conference, Cuomo turned from talking about vaccine distribution in New York to addressing the allegations of unwanted touching and harassment from multiple women that have led some to say he should step down from the governorship.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo admitted. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and frankly embarrassed by it and that’s not easy to say but that’s the truth.”
He insisted, however, that he “never touched anyone inappropriately.”
“I will be the better for this experience,” he added.
Asked if he would quit, Cuomo said he would not. He said he would “fully cooperate” with the lawyers assigned by New York Attorney General Letitia James to investigate the accusations.
“I work for the people of New York,” he said. “I’m going to do the job the people of the state elected me to.”
He asked that people “wait for the facts from the attorney general before forming an opinion.”
Cuomo was first accused of harassment in December by former aide Lindsey Boylan, who later detailed her accusation, saying he kissed her without consent and even once suggested a game of “strip poker” while they were on a private plane. The governor previously denied Boylan’s accusations.
Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, later came forward detailing Cuomo’s harassment of her and claiming he sought a sexual relationship. And a third woman, Anna Ruch, accused the governor of unwanted touching at a wedding and blasted his “predatory behavior.”
Cuomo at one point suggested kissing and touching could be his “way of greeting people” as you can find “hundreds of pictures of me kissing people, men, women. It is my usual and customary way of greeting.” He said it was his father’s way of greeting people too.
Bennett’s lawyer released a statement following the press conference, saying the event was “full of falsehoods and inaccurate information” and that the governor’s claims he never inappropriately touched anyone directly contradicted his client’s allegation.
The scandals have come amid accusations that Cuomo’s administration underreported Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes for political purposes, something he has denied, blaming nursing home staff, and saying his administration simply did not keep up with requests for the information. However, none of the journalists present at the latest press conference raised the issue.
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