ALBANY, N.Y. (KRON) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a new statement Sunday regarding the sexual harassment allegations he is facing.
The governor admitted to playfully making jokes and teasing people he interacts with in the office. He also acknowledged the “insensitive” behavior was seen as “unwanted flirtation” and added that he will cooperate with the investigation.
His full statement reads:
“Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office.
“I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends.
“At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.
“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.
“To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.
“That’s why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations.
“Separately, my office has heard anecdotally that some people have reached out to Ms. Bennett to express displeasure about her coming forward. My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now – period.”
The crisis deepened Sunday as the state’s attorney general demanded he grant her the authority to investigate claims he sexually harassed at least two women who worked for him.
The calls for an investigation into Cuomo’s workplace behavior intensified after a second former employee of his administration went public Saturday with claims she had been harassed.
Charlotte Bennett, a low-level aide in the governor’s administration until November, told The New York Times Cuomo asked inappropriate questions about her sex life, including whether she ever had sex with older men, and made other comments she interpreted as gauging her interest in an affair.
Her accusation came days after another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, a former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, elaborated on harassment allegations she first made in December. Boylan said Cuomo subjected her to an unwanted kiss and inappropriate comments about her appearance.
Cuomo, 63, said in a statement Saturday he had intended to be a mentor for Bennett, who is 25. He has denied Boylan’s allegations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.