ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s “embarrassed” by sexual harassment allegations, but intends to stay in office.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said at a Wednesday news conference. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.”
He also said he never inappropriately touched anyone.
This was the first time Cuomo had spoken publicly since February 22.
Cuomo has been accused of inappropriate behavior by three women.
Former aide Lindsay Boylan accused the governor of sexual harassment in December and more recently detailed her experience.
Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, made her accusations on February 20.
A third woman, Anna Ruch, said over this past weekend that she met Cuomo at a wedding, where he made inappropriate comments.
Cuomo is also under fire for the way he handled nursing home deaths.
The state Legislature is considering a bill that Democrats say would strip Cuomo of some of the powers granted him at the start of the pandemic. Republicans argued Friday that the bill, while claiming to do that, in fact does nothing of the sort and lets Cuomo continue to have substantial emergency powers.
There have been calls for Cuomo’s resignation by both Republicans and Democrats, calls which Cuomo dismissed Wednesday.
“I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign,” he said.
Cuomo made a direct appeal to the residents of the state, asking them to not form an opinion about the accusations against him until Attorney General Letitia James completes her investigation of the matter.
While Cuomo repeatedly said he was sorry Wednesday, and that he never meant to offend or hurt anyone, he did not address the specific allegations made against him, including accusations that he asked one young female aide if she was open to relationships with older men, and telling Ruch, the woman at the wedding, that she seemed “aggressive” and asking if he could kiss her.
Cuomo said Wednesday that kissing is “my usual and customary way of greeting” but “sensitivities have changed. I get it and I’m gonna learn from it.”
Republicans quickly dismissed Cuomo’s apology.
“Some would say it was a performance worthy of the Emmy,” said Robert Ortt, the state senator who leads the Republicans in the state senate.
“I don’t know what’s in somebody’s heart. What I do know is this - there’s an investigation going on by the attorney general’s office and no amount of apology is going to change that investigation from moving forward,” Ortt said.
“I think he governor’s hoping that this will all blow over. I think that’s what he wants,” said Will Barclay, the Republican assemblyman from Pulaski who leads Republicans in the state assembly.