New York Governor Regrets “Misinterpreted” Comments On Harassment Allegations

New York Governor Regrets
Image Credit: EPA

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that he was “very sorry” if his comments had been “misinterpreted as unwanted flirting” as pressure mounts on allegations of sexual harassment against him by two former employees of his administration.

Cuomo has come under fire, including from fellow Democrats, after his former adviser Charlotte Bennett, 25, told The New York Times that the governor had harassed her last year.

Her testimony came four days after former councilor Lindsey Boylan, 36, described episodes of unwanted physical contact, including a forcible kiss on the mouth, by Cuomo.

The 63-year-old governor issued a statement Sunday explaining his attitude. “Sometimes I think I’m being a joker and I make jokes that I think are funny … I don’t want to offend and I just want to bring a bit of lightness and conversation to what is a very serious topic,” he said.

“Now I understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal,” he added.

Cuomo admitted some of his comments were “misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation.” He added: “To the extent that someone felt that way, I am very sorry.”

But he denied ever inappropriately touching or proposing to someone.

These are the first explanations presented by the Democrat – in office for ten years, and one of the most powerful governors in the United States – after the accusations made known this week.

The excuses come after some New York MPs, including several fellow party members, asked for his resignation. Democratic Sen. Alessandra Biaggi even called him a “monster” in a tweet on Saturday.

– Answered investigation –

A growing number of personalities also called this weekend for an independent investigation into the allegations, led by State Attorney Letitia James.

The governor announced Saturday night that he had commissioned a federal judge to conduct a “full investigation” into the allegations, while refuting them.

But his proposal was heavily criticized. Figures such as the young Democratic congressional star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or the Senator from Hawaii Mazie Hirono believed that the investigations should be led by James, and not by a former judge who had worked for a long time with someone close to Cuomo, considered insufficiently independent.

The prosecutor – who many believe could run for governor in the next election in 2022 – spoke to ask Cuomo to entrust the case to her “immediately.”

Even White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki called for “an independent review of the allegations.”

On Sunday night, the governor’s legal counsel said Cuomo finally asked James to appoint “a private attorney” to lead the investigations, with whom the governor will cooperate “voluntarily” and “fully.”

Praised in 2020 for his initial management of the pandemic, this episode has considerably weakened Cuomo, already in the spotlight for having minimized – deliberately for some – the number of deaths from coronavirus registered in the residences of this state of 20 million population.