New York, Mar 3 (efe-epa).- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday apologized for having made three women who claim that he sexually harassed them “uncomfortable,” but he denied having touched any of them in an “inappropriate” manner and said that he would not resign.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.”
He also said that although what he called his “customary greeting” – a gregarious and old-school way of greeting often involving kisses and embraces – was harmless and not intended to make anyone uncomfortable, “sensitivities have changed and behavior has changed” and he now realizes that such conduct may no longer be appropriate or acceptable.
He said he felt very bad about the situation, emphasizing that he will fully cooperate with the investigation into the incidents, but he said that “I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign.”
The third-term governor is currently under investigation by New York state Attorney General Letitia James, a fellow Democrat, who is in the process of choosing an outside law firm to probe the accusations of sexual harassment, after which her office will publicly present the findings.
Two former staffers (Charlotte Bennett and Lindsay Boylan ) and a third woman (Anna Ruch) have accused Cuomo of having verbally and physically harassed them, claims that have sparked a wave of criticism of the governor both inside and outside his party, along with demands that he resign.
Cuomo apologized to “the young woman who worked here who said that I made her feel uncomfortable in the workplace,” adding that “I’m embarrassed by what happened … I’m embarrassed that someone felt that way in my administration. I’m embarrassed and hurt and I apologize that somebody who interacted with me felt that way.”
At a press conference at which Cuomo first offered the latest figures on the coronavirus pandemic and the Covid-19 vaccination campaign in New York, the governor asked New Yorkers to await the public report from AG’s office before formulating an opinion about the matter.
Last weekend, Cuomo delivered an apology in a brief statement, but this is the first time that he has done so in person, electing to comment on the matter at his daily pandemic press conference, a forum that had been suspended since the harassment controversy erupted.
On Tuesday, Democratic socialists in New York, the most progressive wing of the Democratic Party to which Cuomo also belongs, called for his “immediate resignation” as well as for the launching of impeachment proceedings against him over the multiple accusations of sexual harassment that have been leveled against him.
When asked about her opinion about the accusations, the governor’s secretary, Melissa DeRosa, who was present at Cuomo’s press conference, also asked for people to await the conclusion of the report by the state attorney general, adding that she was very proud of the work the Cuomo administration has done to push for women’s rights and to broaden protections for women both inside and outside the workplace.
The governor is between a rock and a hard place after the accumulation of complaints against him, as well as because of criticism of his management of the pandemic in elderly care facilities, a policy approach that is also under investigation.
On Tuesday, the state Congress and Senate agreed to limit the exceptional executive powers that Cuomo has enjoyed since the start of the pandemic a year ago.