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Third woman accuses New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of offensive behaviour
2 March 2021, 07:09
A third woman has come forward with allegations of offensive behaviour by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Anna Ruch told The New York Times he left her "shocked and embarrassed" after he tried to kiss her at a wedding reception in 2019 after they met for the first time.
Ms Ruch said she had thanked him for his kind words about the newlywed couple, to which he put his hand on her bare lower back. Feeling uncomfortable, she instantly removed his hand, to which he allegedly remarked she seemed "aggressive".
He is then accused of putting his hands on her face and asking if he could kiss her loud enough for her friend to overhear.
"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.