New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) came out punching during a news conference Tuesday afternoon in response to the attorney general’s investigation that found he sexually harassed at least 11 women during his time as governor.
Cuomo outright denied all of the allegations against him in a 15-minute monologue during which members of the media were not able to ask questions. The governor blamed the investigation’s outcome on biased reporting by the lead investigators tapped by state Attorney General Letitia James. Cuomo said the allegations against him “sought to unfairly characterize and weaponize everyday actions” he’s had with those accusing him of harassment.
“I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Cuomo said. “I am 63 years old. I’ve lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am and that’s not who I have ever been.”
In a weird turn of events, Cuomo also brought up that someone in his family is a survivor of sexual assault. He said he tried to use his experience with his family member to get closer to Charlotte Bennett, one of his accusers who had disclosed to him that she was a survivor of sexual assault.
“The truth is that her story resonated deeply with me,” Cuomo said of Bennett’s story of sexual assault. “I had heard the same story before with the same ugliness, the same injustice, the same damage. Not only had I heard the story before, I had lived the story before. My family member is a survivor of sexual assault in high school. I have watched her live and suffer with the trauma. I would do anything to make it go away for her but it never really goes away.”
Cuomo went on to suggest that some people are using “this moment” for politics, publicity and personal gain, and accused them of discrediting other sexual harassment victims.
James said in a Tuesday news conference that Cuomo “sexually harassed current and former New York State employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”
The attorney general’s office spoke with 179 people for the investigation and reviewed more than 74,000 pieces of evidence, including emails, texts, photos and audio files. The evidence painted a “deeply disturbing yet clear picture” that Cuomo sexually harassed female employees, many of whom were young women, James said.
Several lawmakers have already called for Cuomo’s resignation in the wake of the attorney general’s findings.
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