New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said that he would not step down amid calls for his resignation after three women have come forward with sexual harassment allegations against him.
“I will not step down,” Cuomo told reporters in his first press conference since the allegations surfaced. “I work for the people of the State of New York. They elected me and I’m going to serve.”
Addressing the claims, Cuomo repeatedly apologized for making his accusers feel uncomfortable or hurt by his actions. But he vehemently denied ever touching anyone inappropriately and urged people to wait for the results of the state’s independent investigation into the allegations before making a judgment. “This is what I want you to know: I never touched anyone inappropriately,” Cuomo said. “I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable and I certainly never meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain.”
Cuomo continued by characterizing some of his behavior, which includes kissing and hugging his greeters, as “customary” for him. That comes after Anna Ruch, a former Obama administration member, told the New York Times on Monday that Cuomo, at a September 2019 wedding where they first met, touched her back before grabbing her face to ask if he could kiss her. A friend captured the moment in a cell phone photo.
“You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people,” Cuomo continued. “Women, men, children. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. It’s my usual and customary way of greeting.” Cuomo declined to answer when asked if he expected more accusers to come forward but said that he would continue to apologize.
The New York governor notably did not address charges that he covered up data on the state’s nursing home deaths from the coronavirus—a scandal that preceded the current crisis over the sexual harassment allegations against him.