New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held his first press conference since Friday, Feb. 19, and since a string of sexual assault allegations came to light, from Albany on Wednesday. Former state employees Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett accused the governor of inappropriate behavior, and a third woman, Anna Ruch, said he grabbed her face at a wedding reception and asked her if he could kiss her.
The sexual assault allegations came on top of New York's nursing home scandal. Secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa admitted to Democratic lawmakers a few weeks ago that the administration intentionally withheld data on COVID-19 related nursing home deaths.
Long time critics of Cuomo's couldn't believe their ears as Cuomo began his presser by providing coronavirus updates as if nothing was amiss.
He’s going to pretend nothing has gone on since the last “press conference”— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) March 3, 2021
But he did finally address the allegations at the end of his presser.
"I never meant to hurt anyone, or offend anyone, or cause anyone any pain," Cuomo said of the accusations. "That is the last thing I would ever want to do. I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts...before forming an opinion."
"I'm sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone," he added. "And I will be the better for this experience."
The first reporter to pose a question what he made of the photos currently circulating that show him grabbing women's faces.
"I understand the feelings of Ms. Ruch, and you are right," Cuomo said to the reporter. "You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people - women, men, children, etc. That, he said, "is my usual and customary way of greeting."
But that doesn't matter, he said. If anyone was offended, he says he "apologizes."
"I feel terrible that these people felt uncomfortable," he added.
Asked if he would "step aside," Cuomo said he will cooperate with state attorney general Letitia James's investigation. "I'm not going to resign."
Twenty-one lawmakers have called for Gov. Cuomo to resign. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) announced on Tuesday that he's "actively exploring" running against him next year.