ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Tuesday amid an investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed three women, saying that he never intended harm and resisting calls to resign.
“I fully support a woman’s right to come forward and I think it should be encouraged in every way,” Cuomo said Wednesday at a news briefing. “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.”
The governor said he felt “awful” and “embarrassed” by the allegations and the fact that he made at least three women feel uncomfortable.
“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me, as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” he said. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone. I never intended it and I will be the better for this experience.”
One former aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo quizzed her about her sex life and asked whether she would be open to a relationship with an older man. Bennett rejected Cuomo’s attempted apology, in which he said he’d been trying to be “playful” and that his jokes had been misinterpreted as flirting.
Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting, and once suggested they play strip poker while aboard his state-owned jet. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s allegations.
And another woman, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her at a September 2019 wedding.
“I never knew at the time (that) I was making anyone feel uncomfortable, and I certainly never ever meant to offend anyone, or hurt anyone, or cause anyone any pain,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “That is the last thing I would ever want to do.”
He said he will “fully cooperate” with the investigation into the claims launched by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion,” he said.
Some state lawmakers have called for Cuomo’s resignation since the allegations first surfaced in recent weeks, including state Sen. James Skoufis, who said in a statement on Wednesday that he had “seen sufficient evidence to conclude that, beyond a reasonable doubt, the Governor’s behavior represents a pattern of abuse that deems him unfit for office.”
Authorities continue to investigate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.