New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legal team on Friday attacked the state attorney general’s report that found he sexually harassed 11 women, hours after one of those women, who is a staff member for Cuomo, filed a criminal complaint against the embattled Democrat with the Albany Sheriff’s Office.
The complaint was confirmed to CNN by an attorney representing the anonymous accuser and a second source with direct knowledge. Albany County Undersheriff William Rice confirmed to CNN that a criminal complaint was filed by an unnamed accuser Thursday, but he did not go into details about the complaint.
It’s the first known criminal report filed against the governor regarding allegations of sexual misconduct. The governor’s office had notified Albany Police of the allegation several months ago.
Cuomo has denied in testimony that he inappropriately touched the woman, but the complaint adds to the mounting legal and political pressure facing the governor in the wake of the report released Tuesday by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office, which has led to calls for his resignation or impeachment from office.
During a more than hourlong virtual briefing Friday, Cuomo’s legal team attacked the AG’s report and the process by which it was released. Paul Fishman, an attorney representing the governor’s office, said James’ office declined to provide a copy of its report to Cuomo’s office and to “the people whose conduct would be discussed” in it before it was publicly released. Cuomo’s attorney Rita Glavin accused the report of being “conducted in a manner to support a predetermined narrative.” Glavin continued: “This was not an exercise in truth-finding.”
When Glavin was asked by CNN how accusers — including a state trooper on the governor’s protective detail — who are cited in attorney general’s report would be shielded from potential retaliation, the attorney said, “People are not going to be retaliated against by Governor Cuomo.”
Glavin told CNN she would have to consult with her client — the governor — to confirm whether or not the state trooper is still on the governor’s security detail.
Glavin also said that Cuomo will address the misconduct allegation from the state trooper, but did not specify when.
The anonymous accuser sat for an informal interview to discuss her allegations against the governor at the Albany Sheriff’s Office Thursday, her attorney said.
She was informed that the sheriff’s office and Albany district attorney were obtaining all relevant information from the attorney general’s investigators and will proceed from there, according to her attorney.
The woman, identified only as “Executive Assistant 1,” was among the 11 women who accused Cuomo of sexually harassing them, according to the AG’s report.
“Executive Assistant 1” told investigators that Cuomo grabbed her buttocks during hugs and a photo, according to the report.
The state attorney general’s report also detailed an allegation, previously reported by the Albany Times Union, of a November 16, 2020, incident at the governor’s mansion in which Cuomo allegedly reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast.
The woman testified, “And I remember thinking to myself who—I knew what just went on, I knew and he knew too that was wrong. And that I in no way, shape or form invited that nor did I ask for it. I didn’t want it. I feel like I was being taken advantage of…”
According to the report, Executive Assistant #1 kept the incident to herself and planned to take it “to the grave,” until after watching Cuomo’s March press conference in which he said he never “touched anyone inappropriately.”
The report also detailed allegations that Cuomo made inappropriate comments about Executive Assistant #1’s appearance and personal life, including asking multiple times about whether she had cheated or would cheat on her husband.
The woman also testified that Cuomo would hug her and kiss her on the check, and, on at least one occasion in early 2020, kissed her on the lips.
The report says Cuomo denied any recollection of kissing Executive Assistant #1 on the lips and testified that he did regularly hug the assistant but claimed that it was she who was the “initiator of the hugs.”
Asked to respond Friday to the complaint, Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, would only say, “As we said previously, we proactively made a referral nearly four months ago in accordance with state policies.”
In a March statement, then-Acting Counsel to the Governor Beth Garvey, said that as a matter of state policy, when allegations of “physical contact” are made, an agency informs a person making a complaint that they should contact their local police department.
“If they decline, the agency has an obligation to reach out themselves and inform the department of the allegation,” Garvey said in the statement. “In this case the person is represented by counsel and when counsel confirmed the client did not want to make a report, the state notified the police department and gave them the attorney’s information.”
CNN reported earlier this week that Albany County District Attorney David Soares’ office requested investigative materials from James’ office regarding the report on Cuomo. Soares’ office on Friday said it will “not be confirming these reports, nor will any documents or information be disclosed and released from our office at this time.”
Several other district attorneys offices in New York have requested additional investigative information from the state’s sexual harassment investigation into Cuomo, saying they need the materials to determine whether incidents that occurred in their jurisdictions amount to criminal actions.
The attorney general’s investigation was civil in nature and James said during her Tuesday press conference that there would not be any criminal actions from her office that would follow. The investigators, however, said that Cuomo’s alleged behavior violated both state and federal law.
Paul Callan, a CNN legal analyst, wrote that the claims by Executive Assistant #1, if true, “would not only be a form of civil sexual harassment under state and federal law but could also constitute the criminal offense of Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree under existing New York law.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this headline and story misstated the employment status of the accuser. She is currently employed in the governor’s office. The story has also been updated with additional background information.
This story has been updated with additional information Friday.
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