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Cuomo accused of forcible touching in criminal complaint

Dan Clark/New York Now file photo

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been accused of a misdemeanor crime of forcible touching in connection with an incident with a staffer at the governor’s mansion last December.

Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, confirmed that a criminal complaint has been filed in Albany City Court.

The complaint, filed by an Albany County Sheriff’s investigator, states that around 4 p.m. Dec. 7, 2020, Cuomo “did knowingly and intentionally commit the Class A Misdemeanor of Forcible Touching.”

The complaint accuses Cuomo of forcibly placing "his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim, and onto her intimate body part” for the purposes of degrading the victim and “gratifying his sexual desires.”

In August, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple confirmed 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 Aug. 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 asked.

“It was the right thing to do,” Commisso answered. “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, 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 Aug. 7 news 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. Nov. 17.

James issued a statement after the complaint was made public.

“The criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report,” she said.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares, in a statement, said, "Like the rest of the public, we were surprised to learn today that a criminal complaint was filed" against Cuomo.

He said his office would not be commenting further on the case.

Complaint against former Go... by WXXI News

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.