ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has made his first public comments involving the allegations of sexual harassment from three different women in less than a week.
In his press conference Wednesday afternoon, Cuomo apologized to the women he “offended,” but also defended his actions as inadvertently making women uncomfortable. He also said he wouldn’t resign as a result of the criticism he’s received since the allegations were brought forward.
“I fully support a woman’s right to come forward and I think it should be encouraged in every way,” Cuomo said. “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’m 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. 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. 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.”
The governor also tried to explain his behavior by saying it is his usual custom to kiss and hug others during a greeting or departure.
The first woman who came forward said Cuomo kissed her without her consent; the second woman said Cuomo asked her personal questions about her sex life; and the third said he grabbed her face at a wedding and tried to kiss her.
The governor has faced mounting calls for his resignation, including from members of his own party, as he weathers the dual political scandals of the alleged sexual harassment and of his administration’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes, as well as an alleged lack of transparency in sharing the true death counts with the public.