New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, on Sunday said allegations of sexual harassment against him arose from misinterpreted 'jokes' and became "unwanted flirtation".
"At work, sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good-natured way," Cuomo said in a prepared statement.
"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," he 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."
The statement came one day after former Cuomo staffer, Charlotte Bennett, 25, alleged to the New York Times that the 63-year-old governor made a series of inappropriate remarks that left her convinced he "wanted to sleep with" her.
That claim, in turn, came less than a week after another former staffer, Lindsey Boylan, expanded on accusations she first revealed in December 2020, alleging that Cuomo kissed her on the lips without warning.
While acknowledging remarks that may have crossed the line, Cuomo on Sunday again denied going any further.
"To be clear, I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable," he said.
"But these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to."
Cuomo's statement was issued minutes after his office caved on the state attorney general's request to solely appoint someone to investigate claims from two former staffers.
"The Governor's office wants a thorough and independent review that is above reproach and beyond political interference," said Cuomo's senior adviser Beth Garvey in a statement
"Therefore, the Governor's office has asked Attorney General Tish James to select a qualified private lawyer to do an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment."