ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an apology Sunday after two women accused him of sexual harassment.
According to The Associated Press, the 63-year-old Democrat addressed the claims after former aides Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan came forward with their allegations. Bennett, 25, said Cuomo asked her inappropriate questions about her sexual relationships, such as whether she would sleep with an older man, while Boylan said Cuomo kissed her without consent, the AP reported.
“Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office,” Cuomo, who took office in 2011, said in a statement posted to his government website. “I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends.”
The statement continued: “At work, sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good-natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.
“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. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
Cuomo went on to say he “never inappropriately touched anybody” and “never propositioned anybody.”
“I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to,” he added. “That’s why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations.”
The AP reported that Cuomo initially had proposed that retired federal judge Barbara Jones, whom he selected, investigate his behavior. When that plan was rejected, Cuomo asked Attorney General Letitia James and Janet DiFiore, New York’s chief appeals court judge, to choose an attorney to review the allegations and release a report to the public, according to the news agency. James rejected the second plan, as well, and demanded that her office control the investigation, the AP reported.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.