Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivers his 2021 State of the State address in the War Room at the State Capitol. (Photo credit: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed the mounting sexual harassment allegations against him Wednesday, saying he “never touched anyone inappropriately.”
“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,” he told reporters. “I feel awful about it and, frankly, I am embarrassed by it.”
Cuomo said he will “fully cooperate” with the attorney general’s investigation, adding he’s “learned an important lesson.”
The governor faces allegations from three women in their 20s and 30s, two who worked with him at different times.
The latest woman, Anna Ruch, met Cuomo at a wedding for one of his top aides, Gareth Rhodes. She claims to The New York Times the governor touched her face and kissed her inappropriately.
CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer asked the governor about a photo that surfaced showing Cuomo holding Ruch’s face. He call it his “customary way of greeting.”
“You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people — women, men, children, etc.,” he replied. “What I also understand is it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter my intent. What matters is if anybody was offended by it.”
After the allegations surfaced Monday, Rhodes’ wife expressed support for Ruch on social media, saying “I am so proud of Anna for sharing her story. This pattern of behavior is completely unacceptable.”
Rhodes has left Cuomo’s office and returned to the state Department of Financial Services, CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer learned Wednesday.
Responding to calls to resign, the governor said, “I’m not going to resign. I work for the people of the state of New York.”
Meanwhile, Cuomo is also on the verge of losing some of his emergency powers during the pandemic. The Legislature’s deal to scale back his executive powers could be voted on as early as Friday, while the move has been considered for weeks.