Aide who accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo files criminal complaint, sheriff says

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In this June 23, 2021 file photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference in New York. Eleven women have described to investigators hired by the New York attorney general’s office how Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment of them made them feel. Cuomo has denied that he sexual harassed or inappropriately touched anyone. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A woman who accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of groping her breast at the governor’s state residence filed a criminal complaint against him, the Albany County Sheriff’s office said Friday.

The complaint, filed Thursday with the sheriff’s office, is the first known instance where a woman has made an official report with a law enforcement agency over alleged misconduct by Cuomo.

“We take every complaint seriously,” Albany County Undersheriff William Rice said Friday.

It’s possible the Democratic governor could be arrested if investigators or the county district attorney determine he committed a crime, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple told the New York Post.

“The end result could either be it sounds substantiated and an arrest is made and it would be up to the DA to prosecute the arrest,” he told the newspaper, which was the first to report on the complaint. “Just because of who it is we are not going to rush it or delay it,” Apple said.

Apple didn’t immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press. His office confirmed to The AP that the report had been filed.

The Cuomo aide who filed the report has accused him of reaching under her shirt and fondling her when they were alone together at the Executive Mansion last year. The woman also told investigators with the attorney general’s office that Cuomo once rubbed her rear end while they were posing together for a photo.

The sheriff’s office didn’t immediately provide a copy of the complaint. A request for comment was sent to Cuomo’s lawyer, Rita Glavin.

The Albany County district attorney would not confirm that they received a complaint, saying they had no plans to release any information because “this is an ongoing matter that is under review,” spokesperson Cecilia Walsh said in an email.

Cuomo has denied touching anyone inappropriately. His lawyers have acknowledged that Cuomo and the woman met together on the day of the alleged encounter, but said he never groped her.

Calls for Cuomo’s resignation or impeachment soared this week after an independent investigation overseen by the state attorney general’s office concluded that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women and worked to retaliate against one of his accusers.

The attorney general’s report describes a series of times Cuomo allegedly acted inappropriately with the aide described as Executive Assistant #1, culminating with the groping encounter at the mansion on Nov. 16, 2020.

Cuomo pulled her in for a hug as she prepared to leave the governor’s office. Told that “you’re going to get us in trouble,” Cuomo replied, “I don’t care,” and slammed the door shut. He slid his hand up her blouse, and grabbed her breast over her bra, according to the report.

“I have to tell you, it was — at the moment, I was in such shock that I could just tell you that I just remember looking down seeing his hand, seeing the top of my bra,” she told investigators.

She pulled away from Cuomo and said, “You’re crazy.”

The woman had initially planned to take the harassment claims “to the grave.”

“(A)ny time he touched me, I felt like it was inappropriate. He was my boss, let alone the Governor of the State of New York, so I definitely felt he abused his power and definitely knew that he had this presence about him, very intimidating, no one ever told him that he was wrong nor were you told to do so. He definitely knew what he was doing was inappropriate,” she testified.

Cuomo has adamantly denied touching her breasts, saying “I would have to lose my mind to do such a thing.”

Prosecutors in several New York counties have said they are interested in investigating claims of inappropriate touching by Cuomo, but all had said they needed the women involved in the allegations to make a formal report.

The Albany Police Department, the primary law enforcement agency for the city, had been informed of the woman’s allegations regarding the encounter at the mansion several months ago and had spoken to her lawyer, but didn’t open an investigation at the time because she didn’t make a report.

The criminal investigation comes as lawmakers were moving toward a likely impeachment proceeding over the allegations.

Lawyers working for the state Assembly sent a letter to Cuomo Thursday giving him until Aug. 13 to respond to the allegations against him or provide documents to bolster his defense.

The state Assembly’s judiciary committee plans to meet Monday to discuss the possibility of impeachment proceedings. Nearly two-thirds of the legislative body have already said they favor an impeachment trial if he won’t resign.

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