ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — A criminal complaint filed by a police investigator with a court in Albany has accused former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of committing a misdemeanor sex crime, though there was confusion Thursday over whether the document was submitted in error.
The one-page complaint, filed by an investigator with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, accused Cuomo of putting his hand under a woman’s shirt on Dec. 7, 2020. The document didn’t name the woman but Cuomo had been publicly accused of groping an aide, Brittany Commisso, at the executive mansion in Albany last year around that date.
A spokesperson for the New York State Courts confirmed to Nexstar’s WTEN:
WTEN reached out to the Albany District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department to see if a final decision has been made on whether to file criminal charges.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple did not return messages. The office of the county’s district attorney, David Soares, which would handle any prosecution and was involved in the investigation, issued a statement saying it had been caught off guard by the filing.
“Like the rest of the public, we were surprised to learn today that a criminal complaint was filed in Albany City Court by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office against Andrew Cuomo,” it said. “The Office of Court Administration has since made that filing public. Our office will not be commenting further on this case.”
The Albany Times Union quoted unnamed officials as saying the complaint had been issued “prematurely” and that a final decision hadn’t been made about whether Cuomo would face charges.
A copy of the complaint, filed by an Albany County Sheriff’s Department investigator, alleges that the former governor “did intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim” and “onto her intimate body part.”
While the complaint filed Monday detailed an incident that allegedly happened on Dec. 7, the accusation detailed in the attorney general’s report is dated to sometime after Nov. 16. “Executive Assistant #1 did not remember the exact date of the incident,” the report says, “but recalled that it was around when she was tasked with photographing a document and provided a copy of the photograph to us that was dated November 16, 2020.”
The unnamed woman accused Cuomo of touching her “left breast for the purposes of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires, all contrary to the provisions of the statute in such case made and provided.”
The embattled former governor is under investigation after the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James released a bombshell report in August that found Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women.
James, whose office is not involved in the criminal investigation of Cuomo, issued a statement saying her civil probe had been conducted “without fear or favor.”
“The criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report,” she said.
James on Wednesday dismissed Cuomo’s repeated complaints that the sexual harassment investigation that led to his resignation was tainted by politics, saying the Democrat has “never taken responsibility for his own conduct.”
James, speaking to a civic group in New York City, defended the 165-page report.
“Mr. Cuomo has a lot to say on these matters, but he’s never taken responsibility for his own conduct. He’s never held himself accountable for how his behavior affected our state government,” said James, also a Democrat.
Cuomo emphatically denied intentionally mistreating women. He said he was stepping aside to avoid subjecting the state to months of turmoil. Since announcing his resignation, he has promoted opinion columns on social media that question the independence of the investigation and suggest his ouster was an orchestrated, political bludgeoning.
“This was politics. Every step of the way,” he said in a tweet last week.
The five-month, noncriminal investigation by James’ office concluded that 11 women within and outside the state government were telling the truth when they said Cuomo had touched them inappropriately, commented on their appearance or made suggestive comments about their sex lives. The report also detailed efforts by his staff to discredit some of his accusers.
“Let’s not lose sight of what’s important,” James said. “It’s not me. It’s not Mr. Cuomo, but the survivors of his harassment. The people of our state whose trust he broke. And the people who believed in him, including myself. No one is above the law. And our state can do better moving forward.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.