Cuomo addresses harassment claims, vows to stay in officeWednesday, March 03, 2021
NEW YORK, USA (AP) — New York Gov Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday rejected calls for his resignation in the face of sexual harassment allegations that have threatened his hold on power and damaged his national political standing.
The Democrat, speaking somberly in his first public appearance since three women accused him of inappropriate touching and offensive remarks, apologised and said that he "learned an important lesson" about his behaviour around women.
"I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," Cuomo said. "It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologise for it."
Asked about calls for him to step aside, the third-term governor said: "I wasn't elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I'm not going to resign."
Cuomo acknowledged "sensitivities have changed and behavior has changed" and that what he considers his "customary greeting" — an old-world approach that often involves kisses and hugs — is not acceptable.
But the allegations against the governor go beyond aggressive greetings.
Former aide Lindsey Boylan accuses Cuomo of having harassed her throughout her employment and said he once suggested a game of strip poker aboard his state-owned jet. Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo once asked her if she ever had sex with older men.
Both women rejected Cuomo's latest apology, doubling down on their disgust after he issued a statement Sunday attempting to excuse his behaviour as his way of being "playful."
"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?" Boylan tweeted.
Cuomo said he will "fully cooperate" with an investigation into the allegations overseen by the state's independently elected attorney general. Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, is selecting an outside law firm to conduct the probe and document its findings in a public report.
Cuomo addressed the allegations during a news conference that otherwise focused on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic, the kind of briefings that made him a daily fixture on TV and a national star among Democrats. Before that, Cuomo last spoke to reporters during a conference call on Feb. 22. His last briefing on camera was Feb. 19.
Two of the women accusing Cuomo worked in his administration. The other was a guest at a wedding that he officiated.
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