New York Gov Andrew Cuomo defended himself against sexual harassment accusations in a statement released Sunday, saying he “never intended to offend anyone or cause anyone harm,” New York Times reporter Luis Ferré-Sadurni tweeted.
Cuomo, who has been accused by two former aides of making inappropriate comments and asking risqué questions about their sex lives, said that he often jokes in manner he believes is simply playful and funny, but now understands “that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended.”
The governor said he acknowledges that some of what he said had been “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”
NEW: In statement, @NYGovCuomo says:
"I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended.”
Read here: pic.twitter.com/ZIIkPfonqg
— Luis Ferré-Sadurní (@luisferre) February 28, 2021
“To the extent anyone who felt that way, I am truly sorry about that,” he wrote.
The governor also emphatically said that he had “never inappropriately touched anybody [or] propositioned anybody.”
“I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to,” he said.
As CrimeOnline has reported, two former aides — ex-special adviser and deputy secretary for economic development Lindsey Boylan and former executive assistant and health policy advisor Charlotte Bennett — each accused the governor this week of sexual harassment while they worked in his office.
Cuomo asked for an independent investigation of the allegations, and Beth Garvey, a special counsel to the governor, initially announced that Barbara S. Jones, a former federal judge in Manhattan, will the lead that investigation. But on Sunday, Garvey reversed course and said that the governor’s office has asked New York Attorney General Letitia James and Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals Janet DiFiore pick and independent attorney “in private practice without affiliation” to conduct the review and issue a public report.
“All members of the Governor’s office will cooperate fully,” Garvey said. “We will have no further comment until the report is issued.”
A second statement from Garvey added that “We will leave all decisions concerning the investigation to be made in the discretion of the independent counsel selected by the Attorney General and Chief Judge.”
In his statement posted by Ferré-Sadurni, Cuomo also wrote that he had heard “anecdotally” about people contacting Bennett “to express displeasure about her coming forward.”
“My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now — period,” he wrote.
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[Featured image: Andrew Cuomo/Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo]