New York governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday responded to recent allegations of sexual harassment by former aides by saying that he was “being playful” at work, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and other prominent Democrats called for an investigation into the claims.
Two former aides, Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, came forward over the past week to allege sexual harassment by Cuomo. Boylan wrote on Medium that in one incident the governor kissed her on the lips without consent, which Cuomo has denied, while Bennett described interactions in which Cuomo asked intrusive questions regarding her sex life, including whether she was open to sleeping with older men.
“The women who have come forward with serious and credible charges against Governor Cuomo deserve to be heard and to be treated with dignity,” Pelosi told Fox News on Sunday. New York senators Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, and Kirsten Gillibrand both called for an independent investigation into Cuomo’s behavior.
Cuomo released a statement on Sunday attempting to address the allegations.
“At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny,” Cuomo said.
“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,” the governor added. “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.”
New York attorney general Letitia James called on Sunday to investigate the allegations, writing on Twitter, “we expect to receive a referral with subpoena power to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against the governor, in line with our demands and New York state law.” It is not yet clear if James has received a referral from the governor’s office.