Lawmakers pan Gov. Cuomo’s comments on sexual harassment claims



New York lawmakers on Wednesday panned the qualifier-laden apology Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued over allegations of sexual harassment lodged by three women.

In an Albany press briefing, an “embarrassed” Cuomo said that he was sorry “if [his accusers] were offended,” indicated that he was specifically apologizing to one of the three women and insisted that he never touched anyone inappropriately.

“I would argue that it’s highly inappropriate to kiss a staffer on the lips without their unequivocal consent, and highly inappropriate for the governor to put his hands on the face of a woman and grab her without her consent,” tweeted state Sen. Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn). “These denials are very sad to watch.”

Former Cuomo staffer Lindsey Boylan, 36, was the first woman to come forward, alleging last month that Cuomo kissed her on the lips without warning, and suggested that they spend a flight playing strip poker.

Days later, fellow former staffer Charlotte Bennett, 25, accused Cuomo of subjecting her to a series of off-color remarks and questions about her sex life, leaving her convinced that the governor was in pursuit of a relationship with her.

And on Monday, Anna Ruch, 33, alleged that Cuomo grabbed her at a 2019 wedding, put his hands on her face and kissed her on the cheek even as she tried to pull away, with part of the interaction caught on camera.

“Cuomo keeps repeating he hasn’t touched anyone inappropriately when there is literally a photo of him touching someone inappropriately,” tweeted state Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou (D-Manhattan).

Even as he partially apologized, Cuomo encouraged New Yorkers to wait for the outcome of a probe by state Attorney General Letitia James before rushing to judgment, and appeared to indicate that his mea culpa was limited in scope.

Asked specifically who he was apologizing to, Cuomo seemed to single out Bennett above Boylan and Ruch.

“I was apologizing to the young woman who worked here, who said that I made her feel uncomfortable in the workplace,” he said.

State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D-Tarrytown) told The Post that he felt Cuomo’s partial apology hadn’t “resolved the issue.”

“When you set an environment in your office where young women are afraid you’re not setting the example,” he said. “I don’t think his press conference wiped out that image.

“I don’t think that he has yet restored the respect he needs to lead the state.”

New York Assemblyman Ron Kim speaking at an event on February 24, 2021.
New York Assemblyman Ron Kim speaking at an event on February 24, 2021.
Matthew McDermott

Added state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), “Cuomo didn’t address anything today. He’s in complete denial. His abusive behavior has hurt women, staff, journalists and legislators.

“If Cuomo was sorry, he would have resigned yesterday.”

Several political groups and lawmakers, including Democrats, have called for Cuomo to step down as governor.

The briefing did nothing to change the mind of state Sen. Gustavo Rivera.

“The Cuomo press conference was a master class in gaslighting, but changes nothing,” the Bronx Democrat told The Post. “So once again: his deeply toxic style of leadership does not lead to good governance. He needs to resign.”

State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx/Westchester), who has also called for Cuomo’s resignation, simply called the governor’s remarks “inadequate and insensitive.”

Cuomo said in the briefing that he has no intention of resigning.


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