New York governor Andrew Cuomo immediately denied the sexual harassment allegations detailed in a report released Tuesday by state attorney general Letitia James.
James’s report, the product of a months-long investigation, concluded that the governor inappropriately touched multiple female employees in violation of state and federal law and unlawfully retaliated against at least one accuser by releasing her personnel file to media outlets.
“The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” Cuomo said in a statement to the media. “I never touched anybody inappropriately…or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
Cuomo denied several specific accusations, including those made by former aide Charlotte Bennett, who claims the governor responded inappropriately when she told him she was a sexual-assault survivor. Bennett claimed that Cuomo asked her if she slept with older men and if she was monogamous, and “understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me.”
However, Cuomo said that a member of his own family had experienced sexual assault, and that in conversations with Bennett he was attempting to “help her.”
Bennett and her lawyer “read into comments that I made and draw inferences that I never meant. They ascribe motives I never had, and simply put, they heard things I just didn’t say.”
Cuomo also denied another incident, in which one of his assistants alleged that the governor groped her under her blouse during a meeting in his home office.
“Let me be clear. That never happened,” Cuomo said.
The governor added that he “will not be distracted” from his job.
“We have a lot to do. We still have to manage the COVID beast,” Cuomo said. “We then have to reopen and reimagine our state.”
Cuomo faces renewed calls to resign in the wake of James’s report, which details harassment allegations by eleven women.
“We commend the brave women who came forward and spoke truth to power,” Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Thomas Suozzi, and Gregory Meeks, all New York Democrats, said in a statement. “The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign.”