FILE - In this May 17, 2012 file photo, Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll introduces Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at a campaign stop at the River City Brewing Company in Jacksonville, Fla. Carroll apologized Thursday, July 26, 2012 for offending lesbians when she said black women who engage in those relationships don't look like her. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Nearly three weeks after Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll faced accusations that she had engaged in an illicit lesbian affair, she is now apologizing for her rebuttal after receiving criticism from a Florida LGBT group.

Florida’s first black female lieutenant governor is expressing regret for the remarks she made when asked about her alleged sex liaison with a female aide. Carroll told reporters days after the claims were made by a fired staffer that, “usually black women that look like me don’t engage in relationships like that.”

Equality Florida’s executive director Nadine Smith responded to the conservative leader’s comments in an op-ed for theGrio in which she wrote, “There are many ways for a person to deny accusations, but Lt. Gov. Carroll reached into her anti-gay bag of tricks and ended up hurling a series of stereotypes about women, lesbians and black people in one fell swoop.”

On Thursday Carroll apologized in a written statement to Smith:

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest apologies to anyone I may have offended with my recent comment. It is wrong and inexcusable to make a comment that hurts people, and that was not my intention. As a Christian, my faith guides me to love and respect all people. The false charges that have been lodged against me are no excuse for what I have said that may have been hurtful to members of your organization and to other Floridians. Please know that I am committed to treating every person with the utmost courtesy, respect and dignity and I hope you will accept my heartfelt apology.

Earlier this month, former staffer Carletha Cole said she was fired last year after she caught her former boss and another female aide in “a compromising position” in Carroll’s office, according to a court filing.

Cole was arrested in 2011 on charges that she illegally leaked taped conversations of Carroll’s staff to a Florida newspaper reporter. In an attempt to defend herself, Cole alleges she was fired after walking in on a sexual encounter between Carroll and her travel aide, Beatriz Ramos, in an state capital office. Cole later took a lie detector test and reportedly passed it.

Carroll denied the charges in a statement to the Florida Times Union, accusing Cole of trying to use the allegations to get the charges against her dropped.

Carroll, a wife and mother of three adult children, has become a prominent African-American surrogate for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and has consistently taken strong conservative positions during her political career.

Last week Cole’s lawyers called on the FBI to investigate a trashcan fire in Carroll’s office. Cole, who is ordained minister, believes that investigation was not handled properly and could be relevant to her case against Carroll.

Follow Jonathan Radford on Twitter @Jrad247 .