March 3 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that while he feels "embarrassed" for acting in ways that made people feel uncomfortable, he's not going to resign amid sexual harassment allegations.
He addressed the allegations for the first time during a COVID-19 briefing, telling reporters he "never touched anyone inappropriately."
"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 not going to resign. I work for the people of the state of New York."
Three women have come forward in recent weeks with allegations of unwanted touching and kissing, and sexual harassment.
Charlotte Bennett, 25, a former aide of Cuomo, told The New York Times he asked her sexually related questions during a meeting with her, including whether she slept with older men. After reporting the encounter, she was transferred to another department.
Lindsey Boylan, who worked in Cuomo's administration from 2015 to 2018, said the governor once suggested a game of strip poker and another time kissed her after a meeting.
"As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips," she wrote in a Medium post detailing the allegations Feb. 24. "I was in shock, but I kept walking."
Boylan appeared to take issue with Cuomo's apology Wednesday.
Anna Ruch, 33, who worked in the Obama administration, said Cuomo also gave her an unsolicited kiss, also touching her back and cupping her face at a wedding.
The allegations have led to some calls for Cuomo's resignation. The governor this weekend called for an independent investigation by former federal judge Barbara Jones, but New York Attorney General Letitia James said she's prepared to lead a probe.
"Allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously," James said in a statement. "There must be a truly independent investigation to thoroughly review these troubling allegations against the governor, and I stand ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary."
James then issued a clarifying statement: "I do not accept the governor's proposal. The state's Executive Law clearly gives my office the authority to investigate this matter once the governor provides a referral.