New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing calls to resign after two former aides accused him of sexual harassment.
A third woman has accused New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo of inappropriate behaviour, just hours after the official formally referred himself for investigation over similar allegations from two former aides.
Anna Ruch, 33, told The New York Times on Monday that she met Cuomo at a wedding in September 2019. During the reception, she said Cuomo put his hand on her bare lower back, which she pushed away, and asked if he could kiss her.
Cuomo has faced growing criticism, including from within his own Democratic Party, for suggesting that two former aides who accused him of inappropriate behaviour at the end of February, Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan, had “misinterpreted” him.
Bennett told The New York Times on Saturday that Cuomo sexually harassed her last year and, four days prior, Boylan had described unwanted physical contact from Cuomo.
Earlier on Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said that Cuomo’s office had written to her granting her request to set up an independent probe into the accusations.
“This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously,” James said in a statement, adding that the referral letter noted that the findings of the investigation will be “disclosed in a public report”.
Cuomo became a national star last year with his straight-talking yet empathetic coronavirus briefings that contrasted sharply with then-President Donald Trump’s dismissive approach to the pandemic.
‘Inappropriate and aggressive’
On Sunday, Cuomo said he was “truly sorry” if his conduct had ever been “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation” as he faced mounting pressure over the scandal.
He has denied ever inappropriately touching or propositioning anyone.
On Sunday, the 63-year-old bowed to pressure to grant an independent investigation.
He initially chose a former federal judge to lead the probe but high-profile figures in his own party said that lacked transparency.
“That’s not an apology. He seemed to be saying, ‘Oh, I was just kidding around.’ Sexual harassment is not funny. It’s serious,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said while criticising Cuomo’s statement in response to the allegations.
A member of the Sexual Harassment Working Group, a group of former New York parliamentary aides that fights harassment, described Cuomo’s comments as “insulting”.