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Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Rep. Tom Reed
New York Rep. Tom Reed this weekend said he took "full responsibility" after a woman said he had sexually harassed her four years ago.
Reed, a Republican, initially denied the woman's account but then apologized on Sunday and said he would not be running for reelection in 2022.
His reversal came days after The Washington Post reported on a claim from lobbyist Nicolette Davis, who said the congressman rubbed her back and unhooked her bra while she was seated near him in a bar during a 2017 work trip. She was 25 years old at the time.
Davis' account was substantiated by another person who was in attendance at the work event, according to the Post.
"A drunk congressman is rubbing my back," Davis texted a friend and co-worker that night, the Post reported. She also wrote: "HELP HELP."
Davis, now an Army officer, told the Post she spoke up for others.
"I need to always act in good conscience and set the right example for the soldiers I will lead, including younger females," she said. "I hope it will allow people who have endured similar experiences to feel confident enough to say something."
Though Reed, 49, initially told the Post that Davis' story was "not accurate," he issued a lengthier statement on Sunday in which he said the incident occurred during a time in his life when he was struggling with alcohol addiction. He had since entered recovery, he wrote.
"In reflection, my personal depiction of this event is irrelevant. Simply put, my behavior caused her pain, showed her disrespect and was unprofessional," read one portion of his statement, which was published on Twitter. "I was wrong, I am sorry and I take full responsibility."
"As I go forward, I will strive to be a better human being, continue to fight for what I believe in, and to make people's lives better in any way I can," Reed wrote.
Reed had been reportedly mulling a campaign for New York governor to challenge Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who is mired in his own sexual harassment controversy.
Several current and former New York state employees have accused the governor of sexual harassment or other misconduct. Cuomo, 63, has denied touching anyone inappropriately and has insisted some of his behavior was inadvertently inappropriate.
State Attorney General Letitia James is leading an investigation into the claims, which have also led to calls for Cuomo to resign. He has resisted, saying the public should wait for the results of the investigation.
In a February statement, Reed said the accounts of misconduct by Cuomo were "abhorrent and have absolutely no place in our society, let alone the highest rungs of government. Such behavior is disturbing and unacceptable."
Reed also called on Cuomo to step down, though he told reporters he didn't believe the governor would do that.
"As I see it right now, the only way Andrew Cuomo is not the candidate is if he is impeached," Reed said in March, as reported by local TV station WHAM. "I just do not see him stepping aside, resigning from the office, even though, obviously, there's a lot of folks calling on a bipartisan basis — which we join with — for that to happen. I just see impeachment as the path for his removal, and that's obviously a very tall order in Albany to achieve."
As the Cuomo allegations continued to unfold, Reed told Fox News that he was "seriously considering" launching his own bid to unseat the governor in 2022, when Cuomo would seek a fourth term.
"We've been asked by many people to do this for months because I think they appreciate the way I govern," Reed said on Fox News. "Not the governing by arrogance and bullying that Gov. Cuomo does."
In his statement on Sunday, Reed said he would now be leaving politics and not run for elected office in 2022. Instead, he said, he will be retiring from public service on Jan. 2, 2023, citing a pledge he had made to voters that he would serve only six terms after being elected in 2010.