A third woman has accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of offensive behaviour, saying that he left her “shocked and embarrassed” after he tried to kiss her.
Anna Ruch told The New York Times she had met the governor for the first time at a wedding reception in September 2019, where he put his hand on her bare back, which she removed, and then put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her.
“I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed. I turned my head away and didn’t have words in that moment,” the 33-year-old said.
Mr Cuomo has also been accused of harassment by two women who worked for his administration, prompting the state’s independently elected attorney general to say she was moving ahead with an investigation.
He maintains he has never inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone, but acknowledged in a statement on Sunday that he had teased people about their personal lives in an attempt to be “playful” and funny.
“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,” he said.
One of the former aides accusing him of sexual harassment, Charlotte Bennett, rejected his attempted apology and said he had “refused to acknowledge or take responsibility for his predatory behavior”.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials have said that while Mr Cuomo is under investigation, he should cede emergency powers he has held since the pandemic began nearly a year ago.
Initially, the governor appeared to want to retain a level of control over the investigation.
His office first said it was asking a former federal judge, Barbara Jones, to conduct the probe then it suggested that the attorney general and the state’s top judge work together to appoint outside counsel.
Finally, on Sunday, Mr Cuomo acquiesced to attorney general Letitia James’s demands that she take control.