The Albany district attorney has dropped a misdemeanor sex crime charge against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Although the D.A. found the complaint “credible,” he said he doesn’t believe he can prove the case “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“While we found the complainant in this case cooperative and credible, after review of all the available evidence we have concluded that we cannot meet our burden at trial,” Albany County District Attorney David Soares said in a statement. “As such we have notified the Court that we are declining to prosecute this matter and requesting the charges filed by the Albany County Sheriff be dismissed.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, resigned from the governorship in August after 11 women came forward with allegations he behaved inappropriately. The allegations were detailed in a report by the state attorney general’s office, which concluded Cuomo “sexually harassed multiple women.” The misdemeanor charge stemmed from allegations by Brittany Commisso, a former aide to Cuomo, who said the then-governor groped her twice. The first incident was on Dec. 31, 2019, she said, when she was at the governor’s mansion helping Cuomo prepare for his State of the State address. While taking a selfie at Cuomo’s suggestion, she told CBS News, she “felt, while taking the selfie, his hand go down my back onto my butt, and he started rubbing it. Not sliding it. Not, you know, quickly brushing over it — rubbing my butt.” In Nov. 2020, she said, Cuomo groped her again when he hugged her in a “sexually aggressive manner” and “put his hand up my blouse and cupped my breast over my bra.”
Cuomo has denied both accusations, saying in a deposition this past July that “to touch a woman’s breasts, who I hardly know, in the mansion with 10 staff around, with my family in the mansion, to say, ‘I don’t care who sees us.’ I would have to lose my mind to do such a thing.”
“In my mind, I have never crossed the line with anyone,” Cuomo said in August. “But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn.”
Commisso, who called Cuomo’s denials “disgusting,” said that the second time he groped her, the governor behaved “almost as if he was in a sexually aggressive state of mind. I really don’t know how to explain the moment. It was, it was — I don’t have the words. I don’t have the words.”
In response to Commisso’s accusations, the Albany sheriff’s office filed a criminal complaint this past October. The complaint alleged that Cuomo “did intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim” with the intent “of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires.” Cuomo was scheduled to be arraigned on Friday. His campaign office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone.
Commisso’s lawyer, in a statement to the New York Post, said that Commisso plans to pursue a civil case. “In this case my client had no control over the filing or prosecution of criminal charges,” Brian Premo said. “She had no authority or voice in those decisions. The only thing she has any power over is her resolution to continue to speak the truth and seek justice in an appropriate civil action, which she will do in due course.”
According to a report from the the Post in December, the Justice Department is investigating the sexual harassment claims against Cuomo in addition to investigations into his administration’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, an alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths, and the governor’s $5.1 million book deal. An impeachment report from the New York state Assembly Judiciary Committee found that senior officials said they worked “extensively” on the book, even sacrificing work on the state’s Covid mitigation efforts to do so. Cuomo has been forced to return the millions he received for the book that, ironically, chronicled his handling of the pandemic.