The New York Governor defended holding a woman's face by claiming it was his father's way of greeting people.
Trigger warning: This story contains descriptions of sexual harassment that some readers may find disturbing.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized for his behavior after being accused of sexual harassment by three women. After spending a week away from the media, Cuomo made a video apology, claiming he didn't know he was making anyone feel uncomfortable. "I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never touched anyone inappropriately," said Cuomo, reported CNN. "I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable. I never knew at the time I was making anyone feel uncomfortable." Cuomo said he had no plans to resign. New York Attorney General Letitia James has opened an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo. The governor said he would wait for the report from the state attorney general based on the investigation. Cuomo addressed the scandal as calls for him to resign continue to grow louder.
"I'm embarrassed by it"
During the video address, Cuomo started off by sharing the Coronavirus numbers before making a statement on the allegations against the Democrat. "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," said the governor. Cuomo claimed that he only just found out the victims felt uncomfortable with the way he "interacted" with them. "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 am embarrassed by it, and that's not easy to say but that's the truth."
As Republicans continue to demand Cuomo step down as governor, Democrats and Cuomo are urging New Yorkers to withhold judgment on his actions until the investigation overseen by Attorney General Letitia James is completed. "He's saying that nothing inappropriate happened. If the investigation shows that something inappropriate did happen, I think he would have to resign," said Stewart-Cousins, the New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
Pattern of abuse
Democratic state Senator James Skoufis, chair of the Senate investigations committee, called on Cuomo to resign. "I cannot in good conscience wait for a months-long inquiry by the Attorney General to run its course," said Skoufis in a statement. "I have seen sufficient evidence to conclude that, beyond a reasonable doubt, the Governor's behavior represents a pattern of abuse that deems him unfit for office. Governor Cuomo must resign."
Three women accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment
1. Lindsey Boylan, Cuomo's former personal aide, was the first one to accuse him of sexual harassment. Boylan said he had harassed her on several occasions between 2016 to 2018, even going as far as planting an unsolicited kiss on the lips at his Manhattan office. “As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips,” wrote Boylan in a personal essay. She said he went “out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs.”
2. Charlotte Bennett, another one of Cuomo's former aides said the governor asked questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous and if she had ever had sex with older men. “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” said Bennett.
3. Anna Ruch, who worked on the campaigns of Obama and Biden, said Andrew Cuomo misbehaved with her and asked if he could kiss her at a New York City wedding reception in September 2019. As we reported, Ruch said the Governor had touched her lower back and put his hands on her face after she tried to remove his hands from her back. He followed it by asking Ruch if he could kiss her. The New York Times published an image of the moment where Cuomo can be seen holding her face in both his hands.
How can New Yorkers trust you @NYGovCuomo to lead our state if you “don’t know” when you’ve been inappropriate with your own staff?— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) March 3, 2021
Cuomo defended the picture claiming it was the way his father, the late three-term New York Governor Mario Cuomo, greeted people. "You're the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them." Ruch definitely didn't feel comfortable as she has pointed out. "I do not believe that I have ever done anything in my public career that I am ashamed of," said Cuomo.
If you are being subjected to sexual assault, or know of anyone who is, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673)