Despite a blistering 168-page report from the Attorney General’s Office identifying him as a serial sexual harasser, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo maintained his innocence in his response to the independent investigation.
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On Tuesday, Aug. 3, New York Attorney General Letitia James released the report of a five-month probe into Cuomo that found he allegedly inappropriately touched staff members or had inappropriate conversations with them at the office.
- Original story - Cuomo Sexually Harassed 'Multiple Women,' Including State Trooper, Scathing AG Report Charges
Cuomo waited for the results to come out, and following the release of the report, issued a statement of his own in a 20-minute pre-recorded video speech.
“I said at the beginning of the process that I would let the process unfold," he said. "I didn’t want anyone to say I interfered. I said I would hold my tongue and I have only made limited comments.
‘It has been a hard and painful period for me and my family, especially as others feed ugly stories to the press.
“But I cooperated, and now I can share the truth.”
Cuomo said that his attorney, who he noted was a “non-political former federal prosecutor,” has responded to each of the allegations against him, adding that “the facts are much different than what has been portrayed.”
- Related story - Calls Grow For Cuomo's Resignation Following Release Of NY AG's Sexual Harassment Report
“I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” he said. “I’m 63 years old. I’ve lived my entire life in public view. This is not who I am and that’s not who I have ever been.”
During his statement, Cuomo specifically apologized to former aide Charlotte Bennett, a survivor of sexual assault, saying that comments he made to her were taken out of context as he sought to connect with her and help her handle her situation, citing a family member who suffered a similar incident.
“I thought I could help her work through a difficult time, and I did ask her questions I don’t normally ask people. I know too well the manifestations of sexual assault trauma and the damage it can do in the aftermath,” he said. “I thought I had learned enough and had enough personal experience to help her, but I was wrong.
“I’ve heard Charlotte and her lawyer and understand what they’re saying. But they’re reading into comments I made and drawing inferences in ways I never mean,” he added. “Simply put, they heard things I didn’t say.”
He also addressed Bennet directly, saying “Charlotte, I want you to know I am truly and deeply sorry.”
“I brought my personal experience into the workplace, and I shouldn’t have done that. I was trying to help, and obviously, I didn’t,” Cuomo said. “I am even more sorry that I further complicated the situation. My goal was the exact opposite.”
Cuomo went on to address claims that he inappropriately kissed employees and others on the hands, cheek, or forehead, saying that he’s “been making the same gesture in public all my life,” while showing slides of him with other New Yorkers and dignitaries.
“I kiss people on the cheek … I kiss people on the forehead … I kiss people on the hand … I embrace people,” he said. “I’m the same person in public as I am in private. I try to put people at ease, to make them smile, to connect with them, show my appreciation and friendship.
“I now understand that there are generational or cultural perspectives that frankly, I hadn’t fully appreciated. And I have learned from this.”
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