New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo emphatically denied wrongdoing after the New York attorney general’s office released a report which found that he sexually harassed multiple women, in violation of federal and state law.
Cuomo delivered a video address Tuesday afternoon following the release of the report, which was based on the allegations of 11 women, nine of whom are current or former state employees. The allegations included claims that Cuomo made inappropriate comments or touched them without consent.
He declined to resigned and claimed that the investigation was "biased" and political.
"First, I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances," Cuomo said. "I am 63 years old. I’ve lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am and that’s not who I have ever been."
The report noted that when speaking with investigators, Cuomo "generally denied touching anyone inappropriately" when he met with investigators, but "he admitted that he ‘may’ have kissed certain staff members on the lips."
Cuomo said that there was one set of allegations "that has bothered me most," which was from Charlotte Bennett, who claimed that he made multiple comments to her about her sex life and said things to her including that he was "lonely" and "wanted to be touched."
"It’s important to me that you fully understand the situation," Cuomo said, saying that Bennett told him that she was a survivor of sexual assault and talked about "the personal trauma that she endured and how she was handling it."
"I could see her pain," he said, adding that "her story resonated deeply with me."
Cuomo did recognize that it was a "fair question" as to why he had conversations with Bennett to begin with, knowing her past experiences. He stated that he had been familiar with the damage that sexual assault can cause because one of his family members was a survivor. But he claimed that Bennett and her attorney were not accurately presenting the situation.
"They read into comments that I made and draw inferences that I never meant," he said. "They heard things that I just didn’t say."
Cuomo then addressed Bennett directly.
"Charlotte, I want you to know that I am truly and deeply sorry," he said. "I brought my personal experience into the workplace and I shouldn’t have done that. I was trying to help."
Bennett tweeted at Cuomo following the release of the report.
"Resign, @NYGovCuomo," she said.
Cuomo put up a tougher defense against the anonymous staffer who claimed that he groped her under her blouse at his residence.
"Let me be clear: that never happened," he said.
That woman's attorney told the Albany Times-Union that she is willing to take a polygraph to support her allegations.
Investigators stated at a news conference earlier in the day that they found all 11 complainants to be credible.
The report also said that the women investigators spoke with "described how the culture within the Executive Chamber—rife with fear and intimidation and accompanied by a consistent overlooking of inappropriate flirtations and other sexually suggestive and gender-based comments by the Governor—enabled the above-described instances of harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment overall."
Cuomo said that his lawyer has prepared a rebuttal document that responds to each of the attorney general's office's findings.