Speed Reads

'I am embarrassed'

Cuomo claims kissing is his 'usual and customary' greeting

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) apologized Wednesday for "whatever pain I caused anyone" as he faces multiple allegations of sexual harassment while defending himself by pointing to "hundreds" of photos of "me kissing people."

The New York governor spoke at a press conference after three women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment, including two former aides. Cuomo contended he "never touched anyone inappropriately" and said he didn't intend to make anyone feel uncomfortable.

"I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," Cuomo said. "It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it. ... I'm sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone."

One of the aides who came forward alleged Cuomo kissed her on the lips without consent, and a photo showed Cuomo touching a woman who accused him of an unwanted advance. In the press conference, Cuomo said he frequently tries to make people "feel comfortable" by greeting them with a hug and kiss, but expressed regret over anyone being "offended" by this behavior and said he understands that "sensitivities have changed."

"You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people — women, men, children, etc.," Cuomo said. "You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people — men, women ... it is my usual and customary way of greeting."

Among the other allegations Cuomo has faced include allegedly asking an aide to "play strip poker" and asking another aide if she has ever had sex with older men. Cuomo previously said he has sometimes teased people "about their personal lives and relationships" but didn't mean to "offend anyone."

The governor, who promised he "will be the better for this experience," told reporters he is "not going to resign" over the scandal despite calls for him to do so. Brendan Morrow