Cuomo’s alleged harassment “derailed” aide’s career, lawyer says

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will not resign over sexual harassment claims made by three women.

Cuomo apologized Wednesday for making anyone uncomfortable in his first public appearance since the allegations. The governor promised to cooperate with the state attorney general’s investigation

Attorney Debra Katz, who represents former aide Charlotte Bennett, told CBS News’ Jericka Duncan that Cuomo “doesn’t get a pass.”

Bennett has said that Cuomo asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life, including whether she had ever had sex with older men. “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the New York Times.

“That’s inappropriate,” Katz said. “It derailed her career.”

Katz also slammed Cuomo’s explanation for the picture of him with Anna Ruch, who says he tried to kiss her. 

With Ruch’s allegations surfaced a photo of her and the governor at a wedding in 2019, where he has his hands on her face. 

“I never touched anyone inappropriately,” Cuomo said at the press conference. “You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. Men, women, it is my usual and customary way of greeting.”

Katz said the photo of Cuomo and Ruch is “exhibit A that he did the very thing that today he denied in a press conference.”

“This is far more significant than the governor is embarrassed. He engaged in unlawful sexual harassment and he needs to acknowledge that,” she said.

Since the first allegations came to light, calls for the governor’s resignation have grown to some 20 Democrats.

But with leadership taking a wait-and-see approach, Cuomo is holding on — telling the media in a Wednesday press conference, “I’m not going to resign.”

However, Cuomo said he now understands “that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable.”

“It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it,” he said. “I’m embarrassed by it.”

While some lawmakers within Cuomo’s party are calling for him to resign, most Democratic leaders echo the governor’s message — wait for the investigation before forming an opinion. 

“I think overwhelmingly there’s a sense that we should be fair about this,” New York State Democratic Chair Jay Jacobs said.

Jacobs also said a lot will depend on the outcome of the investigation.

“We don’t want to look back at it sometime in the distant future and think that maybe we rushed this,” he said.

Meanwhile, New York State legislators are reaching a deal to strip the governor of his COVID-19 emergency powers granted in the early days of the pandemic, which would mean he would have to consult state lawmakers on pandemic-related decisions.

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