New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apologises for behaviour, denies touching anyone inappropriately

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has apologised for his behaviour, after several women made claims of sexual harassment against him. 

He made the apology in a livestreamed announcement in New York on Thursday morning (NZ time) after going over the improving state of New York's coronavirus outbreak. 

"I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this," he said.

"First, I fully support the women's right to come forward, and I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologise for it. I feel awful about it and frankly, I am embarrassed by it. That's not easy to say, but that's the truth.

"But this is what I want you to know... I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable... I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone, hurt anyone, or cause anyone any pain. THat is the last thing I would want to do.

"I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney-general's report before forming an opinion. Get the facts please before forming an opinion." 

He said he also wanted people to know he had "learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people".

"I've learned an important lesson - I'm sorry, I'm sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone. I never intended it and I will be the better for this experience. Thank you." 

Cuomo, a Democrat, has been accused by two former aides of engaging in unwanted, sexually suggestive comments, and in one case an unsolicited kiss. A third woman also says he tried to kiss her and touched her inappropriately.

A reporter asked him if he should step aside after pictures showing him touching a woman on the face surfaced. 

"You are right," he said. "You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people - women, men, children, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people.. It is my usual and customary way of greeting... It was my father's way of greeting people." 

He said it was a way of feeling closer to his constituents.

"But I also understand it doesn't matter, my intent... I could intend no offence, but if they were offended by it, then it was wrong. If they were offended by it, I apologise... If they felt pain from it, I apologise. I did not intend it. I didn't mean it that way, but if that's how they felt, that's all that matters."

He went on to say he's learned what's acceptable behaviour nowadays has changed.