Former New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Former New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Credit: TNS/Don Pollard

ALBANY — Former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who resigned last year amid sexual harassment allegations, says that if he had to do it all over, he wouldn’t have resigned, according to a published report on Monday.

"I never resigned because I said I did something wrong. I said, I’m resigning because I don’t want to be a distraction" to the state, Cuomo told Bloomberg News.

He also didn’t rule out a run for elected office in the future, but said he is now focused on clearing his name. "Vindication is not the reason to run for office," Cuomo told Bloomberg.

Cuomo has said the Aug. 3 report by Attorney General Letitia James, which concluded that he had sexually harassed multiple women, was flawed, biased, and politically motivated. On Monday, he said his view has been proven correct because four prosecutors have dropped criminal investigations into some of the incidents in the report.

"It turns out in a remarkably short period of time that it did become all bogus," Cuomo told Bloomberg. "If you do an honest summary, which is what I get from people on the street, I have been vindicated."

On Monday, the state Attorney General’s Office defended its investigation.

"No one, including Andrew Cuomo, can dispute the fact that multiple investigations found allegations of sexual harassment against him to be credible," the attorney general’s office said in a statement. "Only he is to blame for inappropriately touching his own staff and then quitting so he didn't have to face impeachment. His baseless attacks won’t change the reality — Andrew Cuomo is a serial sexual harasser."

The Bloomberg article said Cuomo deflected questions about running for elected office again, but ultimately wouldn't rule it out.

"I’m still focused on communicating what happened here," Cuomo stated. "Because as a precedent, it has to be exposed."

"Listen," Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi told Newsday, "There are a lot of silly rumors running around this town and we can't help it if some people are still fixating on us."

Cuomo had announced his resignation on Aug. 10 as the Assembly Judiciary Committee investigated accusations against him that could have led to his impeachment. If the Senate had convicted him in an impeachment trial, Cuomo could have been removed from office and barred from running for statewide office.

James’ report stated Cuomo violated state and federal civil laws by sexually harassing multiple women, including current and former staffers and tried to retaliate against accusers. The governor’s conduct included unwanted groping, kissing and hugging younger women and making inappropriate comments, according to the report.

James, however, had no jurisdiction to prosecute. Instead, James made the findings available to local prosecutors.

Since then, district attorneys from four counties started and dropped criminal investigations based on some of the accusations in the attorney general’s report. However, the local prosecutors in Nassau, Westchester, Albany and Oswego counties who investigated the accusations that were set within their counties said they found the accusers credible. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office also reviewed the report, but has refused to comment on any action since August.

The prosecutors said the circumstances of the accusations didn’t fit any criminal law. There is no crime of sexual harassment in New York State, so prosecutors would have to prove other charges, which could include forcible touching, harassment and sexual abuse.

Cuomo denies sexually harassing anyone. He has said his banter about personal lives as well as hugs, and kisses on the cheek, are part of his way to show support for his staff.

Sexual harassment is prohibited under civil law, which could be the basis of any private lawsuits against Cuomo.

The Sexual Harassment Working Group created by women who survived harassment in state government has bristled at Cuomo’s continued attacks on the report that prompted his resignation.

"Cuomo received more opportunities to defend himself than just about any of his fellow sexual harassers," the group stated last week. "Instead of accepting responsibility, Cuomo attacks survivors and those who investigated his misconduct … haven’t the victims of his abusive behavior endured enough?"

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