Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted Thursday that “harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable” — a claim that critics rapidly blasted as laughably fallacious and “truly alarming.”
During a information convention within the Bronx, Cuomo — who’s facing multiple sexual harassment investigations — sparred with a reporter who confronted him over the February assertion wherein he apologized for past comments that “made others feel in ways I never intended.”
“Do you acknowledge the fact that your intentions, according to the law, don’t matter in sexual harassment?” the reporter requested.
“No. I said I never meant…I never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo stated.
During a heated back-and-forth with the reporter, Cuomo stated, “You can leave this press conference today and say, ‘Oh, the governor harassed me.’ You can say that.”
“I would say I never said anything that I believed was inappropriate. I never meant to make you feel that way,” he stated.
“You may hear it that way. You may interpret it that way. And I respect that. And I apologize to you if you — I said something you think is offensive.”
Cuomo — an Albany Law School grad who beforehand served as state legal professional basic — additionally insisted, “Harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable.”
“That is not harassment,” he stated.
“I just made you feel uncomfortable — that is not harassment. That’s you feeling uncomfortable.”
Cuomo then rapidly lower quick the information convention, saying, “OK, thank you all very much.”
A lawyer for former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett — one in every of a number of girls who’ve accused him of sexual harassment — later launched a ready assertion that known as Cuomo’s remarks “jaw dropping.”
“For someone who signed the law defining sexual harassment in New York State, and who claims to have taken the state’s mandated sexual harassment training every year despite Ms. Bennett seeing someone else take it on his behalf, Gov. Cuomo continues to show an alarming degree of ignorance about what constitutes sexual harassment,” lawyer Debra Katz stated.
“The law is very clear on this. If an employer makes unwelcome jokes, comments, asks probing questions of a sexual nature or makes unwanted sexual propositions – which is exactly what Gov. Cuomo has already admitted to having directed toward my client, Charlotte Bennett – that employer has violated New York state law. There is no gray area here.”
Katz added: “The Governor needs sexual harassment training, now. His studied ignorance is truly alarming.”
The Sexual Harassment Working Group — made up of former legislative staff — additionally issued a press release that stated Cuomo’s “self-delusion reached impressive new heights and our response is very simple: just because you believe you can’t make anyone “feel’ harassed by your actions, doesn’t make it legally true.”
“If the Governor tried that before a judge he’d get laughed out of court,” the group added.
State Assemblyman Dan Quart (D-Manhattan), who’s working for Manhattan district legal professional, stated in a press release: “Plain and simple, the Governor is wrong about the law that he signed and has touted as the strongest sexual harassment law in the nation.”
“According to New York state law, unlawful harassment is inferior terms, conditions or privileges of employment based on a protected characteristic,” he stated.
“The behavior that Charlotte Bennett has described, behavior that the Governor himself has admitted to and apologized for, certainly qualifies as inferior treatment under the law.”
Quart added: “Further, in the model sexual harassment policy posted on the Governor’s own website, behavior that causes the recipient discomfort is specified as sexual harassment, directly contradicting his comments from today.”