Cuomo rejects AG report, denies doing anything inappropriate

"I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances," Cuomo said.

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Cuomo denies any wrongdoing
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NY Gov. Cuomo says he has never done anything inappropriate following AG report on sexual harassment

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A defiant Governor Andrew Cuomo rejected New York Attorney General's findings saying in a taped response that "the facts are much different than what has been portrayed" and that he "never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances."

"I am 63 years old, I have lived my entire life in public view, that's just not who I am or who I have ever been," he said.


Cuomo's lawyer issued a written rebuttal to the investigation's findings. Cuomo said he was hiring an expert to reform sexual harassment training for state employees, including the governor.

In his taped response, Cuomo apologized to two accusers: Bennett, who said the governor asked if she was open to sex with an older man after she confided in him that she had been a victim of sexual assault, and a woman he kissed at a wedding - an incident reported in a front-page story in The New York Times.

Still, Cuomo equivocated and lashed out at the investigative process, saying it was rife with "politics and bias." He explained that he's been physically embracing people his whole life, that his mother and father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, had done the same and that the gesture was meant to "convey warmth."

"For those who are using this moment to score political points or seek publicity or personal gain. I say they actually discredit the legitimate sexual harassment victims that the law was designed to protect," Cuomo said.

Governor Cuomo said that of all the claims against him, Bennett's accusations bothered him the most.

RELATED | Full details of 11 complaints against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to AG report

He said that they had spoken about her experience with a past sexual assault and he said that her story resonated "deeply" with him. He went on to describe that a family member of his is a sexual assault survivor from back in high school. "I would do anything to make it go away for her," Cuomo said.

"I was trying to make sure she was working through it the best she could," he said of his conversations with Bennett. "I thought I had learned enough and had enough personal experience to help her but I was wrong."

The governor said that Bennett and her lawyer "read into comments that I made and draw inferences that I never meant. They heard things that I just didn't say."

The governor then offered an apology.

"I am truly and deeply sorry. I brought my personal experience into the workplace and I shouldn't have done that."

He also mentioned that there is another woman who wants anonymity, who is filing a claim against him for damages and says that will be decided by a court of law.

"I welcome the opportunity for a full and fair review before a judge and jury because this just didn't happen," he said referencing the Attorney General's report.

The governor also recounted kissing a woman on the cheek at a wedding, "not front-page news."

"I learned it from my mother, and I learned it from my father. It is meant to convey warmth, and nothing more," Cuomo said. "I do it with everyone, black and white, young and old, straight, and LGBTQ, powerful people, friends, strangers, people who I meet on the street."

While showing photos of himself kissing and hugging others, he admitted that at times he has said "Ciao Bella" and has "slipped" and called people honey or sweetie.

Governor Cuomo said that there will be new sexual harassment training for his whole team, including himself.

"I accept responsibility and we are making changes," he said.

Some claimed there is a culture of hostility and bullying in his office. Cuomo said, "My office is a demanding place to work and it's not for everyone."

He blamed the "super-heated political environment" for the claims and report against him.

"My father would say that politics is an ugly business, and as usual, he was right," Cuomo said.

As for resignation, the governor did not even address it. Instead, he vowed, "I will not be distracted."

RELATED: Renewed calls for Cuomo to resign following AG's report


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