(Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he would not step down after a series of sexual misconduct allegations made against him by young women, but again apologized and promised a review by the state “to cooperate fully” Attorney General.
“I will not resign,” Cuomo said at a press conference after making emotional apologies for behavior that “made people feel uncomfortable”.
“I feel awful and frankly I am embarrassed,” said the Democratic governor, who has also battled allegations over the past few weeks that his government tried to reduce the number of elderly care home residents killed by COVID-19 from the start downplaying the pandemic.
Cuomo said his behavior towards the women who accused him of wrongdoing was unintentional and claimed he never touched anyone inappropriately. Nonetheless, he admitted that it is “custom” for him to kiss and hug people when he greets them.
“I understand that sensitivities have changed and behaviors have changed, and I understand and I will learn from them,” he said.
Three women, including two former aides, recently came forward that Cuomo sexually molested them or made inappropriate comments. Lindsey Boylan, who first called in December, said the unwanted advances included an unsolicited kiss on the lips in Cuomo’s New York office, which Cuomo denied.
Boylan, a candidate for Manhattan District President, denied the governor’s apology in a Twitter message on Wednesday. “How can New Yorkers trust you @NYGovCuomo to run our state when they ‘don’t know’ when you’ve been inappropriately with your own staff?” She wrote.
TO BEGIN INVESTIGATION
The second woman who fully describes her experience is Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy advisor, who told the New York Times in February that Cuomo had showered her with questions about her romantic life over the past year, which she did viewed her as an attempt to have sex with them.
A third woman has also come forward, telling the New York Times that the governor made undesirable progress and physical contact after meeting her at a wedding in 2019.
In response to Bennett, Cuomo released a statement on Sunday saying that he sometimes playfully teased colleagues and felt sorry when he made someone uncomfortable, and his office approved the legal referral to New York Attorney General Letitia James, to investigate the complaints.
Debra Katz, the attorney who represented Christine Blasey Ford when she alleged that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, is now representing Bennett. In a statement on Wednesday, Katz said Cuomo’s apology was “full of untruths”.
Reuters was unable to reach the representatives of the other two women immediately.
“I apologized a few days ago. I apologize today, I will apologize tomorrow, I will apologize the day after tomorrow, “Cuomo said on Wednesday when he asked the public to” know the facts “before forming an opinion.
The sexual misconduct complaints surfaced after questions about Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic emerged last year as it was ripped through nursing homes. New York state politicians, including many Democrats, have said Cuomo tried to silence his critics and was routinely ruled by intimidation.
In January, James’ office released a report in which the state health department significantly undercounted the death toll in nursing homes and implemented guidelines that may have contributed to the death toll.