New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo made an announcement on Wednesday responding to allegations from multiple women accusing him of sexual harassment. The governor apologized making these women feel "uncomfortable" but denied that he had touched anyone inappropriately. He said he will fully cooperate with an investigation conducted by the state attorney general into the allegations.
"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," Cuomo said at a press conference after giving an update on COVID-19 vaccines and reopening in New York.
"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," he continued. "But this is what I want you to know, and I want you to know this from me directly: I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable. I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable. And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone, or hurt anyone, or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do."
New York State Attorney General Letitia James has opened an investigation into sexual harassment allegations from three women against Cuomo. Anna Ruch, 33; Lindsey Boylan, 36; and Charlotte Bennett, 25, have each come forward independently over the last week to accuse the governor of inappropriate touching and unwanted advances between December 2016 and June 2020.
Boylan, a former staffer in the governor's office, was the first woman to come forward and accuse Cuomo of sexually harassing her in the workplace, including kissing her on the lips without her consent. A few days after Boylan told her story in a blog post, Bennett came forward and told the New York Times that Cuomo had asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life, which she interpreted as a sexual advance.
A third accuser, Ruch, says Cuomo made an unwanted advance at a 2019 wedding, touching her in an inappropriate manner.
Cuomo denied the allegations of inappropriate touching, saying he would fully cooperate with investigators and asking the people of New York to refrain from making a judgement before the investigation is completed.
"I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general's report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion, and the attorney general is doing that review, I will fully cooperate, and then you will have the facts and make a decision when you know the facts," Cuomo said.
While fielding follow-up questions from reporters, Cuomo commented on a picture of him putting his hands on Ruch's face at the 2019 wedding, saying that there are "hundreds" of similar pictures and that is "my usual and customary way of greeting people." He added that he hugs and kisses members of the New York legislature.
"It doesn't matter my intent, what matters is if anybody was offended by it," Cuomo said. "And I could intend no offense, but if they were offended by it, then it was wrong. And if they were offended by it, I apologize. And if they were hurt by it, I apologize. And if they felt pain by it, I apologize."
Responding to a question about calls for his resignation from multiple New York lawmakers, Cuomo emphatically stated he will not resign.
"Some politicians will always play politics, right? That's the nature of the beast. I don't think today is the day for politics," Cuomo said, adding that he was elected by the people of New York, not by politicians. "I'm not going to resign."