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Court spokesperson: Cuomo charged in connection with sexual assault criminal complaint

File photo: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Pat Bradley
File photo: Ex-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

A spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, Lucian Chalfen, confirms that a misdemeanor complaint against former Governor Andrew Cuomo has been filed in Albany City Court.

Chalfen says the charges are classified as a sex crime. A redacted complaint was released soon after.

Earlier this year, Albany County Sherriff Craig Apple announced that his office was investigating a criminal complaint from the former governor’s staffer, Brittany Commisso, who accused Cuomo of forcibly groping her under her shirt when she visited him at the governor’s mansion to help him fix a problem with his phone.

In early August, a report by state Attorney General Tish James found Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, including Commisso.

Cuomo denied that he sexually harassed or assaulted anyone, but resigned from office on August 24.

The criminal complaint says between 3:51 p.m. and 4:07 p.m. on December 7, 2020, Cuomo committed the Class A misdemeanor of forcible touching in the Executive Mansion, placing his hand under the blouse of the victim and groping her left breast.

The complaint, filed by an Albany County Sheriff’s investigator, says Cuomo “ forcibly place(d) his hand under the blouse of the victim, and onto her intimate body parts” for the purposes of degrading (the victim) and “gratifying his sexual desires.”

Cuomo denied that he sexually harassed or assaulted anyone, but resigned from office on August 24.

In August, Commisso was interviewed by CBS This Morning, and the Albany Times Union, where she spoke to CBS’s Jericka Duncan about the incident.

“Why did you file that criminal complaint with the Sheriff’s office?’ Duncan asks.

“It was the right thing to do,” Commisso said. “The governor needs to be held accountable.”

Duncan then asked whether being held accountable means seeing the governor charged with a crime.

“What he did to me was a crime,” Commisso answered. “He broke the law.”

In a statement Thursday evening, a spokesman for Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, denied the charges, saying “Governor Cuomo has never assaulted anyone.” Azzopardi called the criminal complaint “political” and questioned the motives of the Albany County Sheriff, saying Apple, in an August 7 press conference, pronounced the former governor guilty, before the investigation began. At the event Apple said he considered Commisso, the complainant, a victim.

A news release from the Albany County Sheriff's Office said Albany City Court has issued a summons for Cuomo to appear in court at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 17.

Attorney General James, now about to announce a run for governor, released a statement on the charge.

“From the moment my office received the referral to investigate allegations that former Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, we proceeded without fear or favor," AG James said. "The criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report.”

“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," Albany County District Attorney David Soares said in a statement Thursday evening. "The Office of Court Administration has since made that filing public. Our office will not be commenting further on this case.”

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.