Former aide who accused Cuomo files criminal complaint

The woman, whose name has not been made public, accused the New York governor of groping her.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is now facing a criminal complaint about alleged sexual harassment [File: Mary Altaffer/Pool via Reuters]

A woman who accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of groping her breast at the governor’s state residence filed a criminal complaint against him, the Albany County Sheriff’s office said on Friday.

The complaint, filed on Thursday with the sheriff’s office, is the first known instance where a woman has made an official report with a law enforcement agency over alleged misconduct by Cuomo.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple told the New York Post it is possible the Democratic governor could be arrested if investigators or the county district attorney determine he committed a crime.

“The end result could either be it sounds substantiated and an arrest is made and it would be up to the DA to prosecute the arrest,” he told the newspaper, which was the first to report on the complaint. “Just because of who it is we are not going to rush it or delay it,” Apple said.

The Cuomo aide, whose name has not been made public, accused him of reaching under her shirt and fondling her when they were alone together at the Executive Mansion last year. The woman also told investigators with the attorney general’s office that Cuomo once rubbed her rear end while they were posing together for a photo.

She was one of at least 11 women who state investigators this week said were sexually harassed by Cuomo who is resisting widespread calls, including from US President Joe Biden, to resign, and faces impeachment by state legislators.

The aide, who was an executive assistant, told investigators that Cuomo called her to the mansion in November 2020, led her into a room, closed the door, slid his hand under her blouse and cupped her breast over her bra, according to the investigators’ report, released on Tuesday by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

A view of Governor’s Mansion in Albany, New York, after an independent inquiry showed that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and violated federal and state laws [Cindy Schultz/Reuters]

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from the sheriff’s office.

Cuomo’s lawyer, Rita Glavin, didn’t immediately address the criminal complaint in an online briefing with reporters, but said the groping allegation — which was also outlined in newspaper articles and in a report released by the New York attorney general’s office — was fabricated.

“This woman’s story, which is stated as fact in the report, is false. The documentary evidence does not support what she said,” Glavin said.

The sheriff’s office did not immediately provide a copy of the complaint. A request for comment was sent to Cuomo’s lawyer, Rita Glavin.

The Albany County sheriff confirmed to The Associated Press news agency that the complaint has been filed.

Cuomo has denied touching anyone inappropriately. His lawyers have acknowledged that Cuomo and the woman met together on the day of the alleged encounter, but said he never groped her.

Calls for Cuomo’s resignation or impeachment soared this week after an independent investigation overseen by the state attorney general’s office concluded that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women and worked to retaliate against one of his accusers.

Protesters call on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign, outside his office in New York, US, August 4, 2021 [Justin Lane/EPA-EFE]

Prosecutors in several New York counties have said they are interested in investigating claims of inappropriate touching by Cuomo, but all had said they needed the women involved in the allegations to make a formal report.

The Albany Police Department, the primary law enforcement agency for the city, had been informed of the woman’s allegations regarding the encounter at the mansion several months ago and had spoken to her lawyer, but did not open an investigation at the time because she did not make a report.

The criminal investigation comes as legislators were moving towards a likely impeachment proceeding over the allegations.

Lawyers working for the state assembly sent a letter to Cuomo on Thursday, giving him until August 13 to respond to the allegations against him or provide documents to bolster his defence.

The state assembly’s judiciary committee plans to meet on Monday to discuss the possibility of impeachment proceedings. A majority of members of the legislative body have already said they favour an impeachment trial if he will not resign.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies