NEW YORK (AP) — In his first public speech since resigning over multiple sexual harassment allegations last year, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday attacked the “abandon culture” he said is behind politically motivated efforts to remove him and hinted at a future role in public life.
Cuomo appeared Sunday morning at God’s Battalion of Prayer church in Brooklyn and quoted the Bible several times as he described his struggles, then went on the offensive to attack the “political sharks” in Albany, who he said ” smelled blood” and exploited the situation for political gain.
“The actions taken against me were prosecutorial misconduct,” Cuomo said, reiterating an issue he had pushed from the start. “They used the abandonment culture to effectively overturn an election.”
The Democrat resigned in August, days after an independent investigation found he had sexually molested nearly a dozen women and that he and his aides were working to exact revenge on an accuser. On Sunday, Cuomo acknowledged his behavior wasn’t appropriate, but was quick to add that nothing he’d done was against the law.
“I didn’t realize how quickly perspectives were changing,” he said. “I learned a powerful lesson and paid a very high price to learn that lesson. God is not done with me yet.”
Several prosecutors in New York said they believed Cuomo’s accusers were “credible,” but said the evidence available was not strong enough to bring criminal charges against him. Last month, a New York state police officer sued him, alleging that he caused her severe mental anguish and emotional distress by inappropriately touching her and making lewd comments. A Cuomo spokesman called the lawsuit a “cheap extortion.”
Cuomo primarily used his platform on Sunday to condemn a social media-driven climate that he says is growing and dangerous.
“Any allegation can trigger an inaccurate conviction or due process,” he said. “We are a nation of laws, not a nation of tweets. Woe to us if we allow this to become our new legal system.”
Cuomo has repeatedly returned to a biblical metaphor of crossing a bridge to describe his journey, hinting that he won’t stay out of the limelight.
“The Bible teaches perseverance, it teaches us to get off the mat,” he said. “You broke my heart but not my spirit. I want to take the energy that could have embittered me and make us better.”
This story has been updated to clarify that Sunday’s remarks were Cuomo’s first public speech since his resignation.