Cuomo could face criminal charges over aides groping claims, Albany sheriff says

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There could be “a couple” of misdemeanor charges stemming from a criminal complaint filed this week by one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s aides, the Albany County Sheriff said Saturday.

Sheriff Craig Apple emphasized that his office’s investigation of the woman’s account of sexual harassment was in the “very infant stage.”

“We have a lot of fact finding to do. We’re going to conduct a very comprehensive investigation,” Apple said.

But his remarks during a brief press conference in Albany gave the first hint of what a possible criminal case could look like against Cuomo after Attorney General Letitia James released the findings of an independent report Tuesday which found the governor sexually harassed 11 women.

The aide, identified only as “Executive Assistant #1,” filed a complaint with Apple’s office Thursday afternoon, the first of those cited in the report to do so.

“From what I have read so far, I can say we’re floating around a misdemeanor, but that’s just from the Attorney General’s report. We haven’t had an in depth interview with her,” Apple said.

He said he had requested investigative material from James’ office and the woman would be brought in for an interview.

“At this point, I’m very comfortable and safe saying she is, in fact, a victim,” Apple said.

The aide made the most serious accusation among the women, alleging that Cuomo pulled her in for a hug and reached under her blouse to fondled one of her breasts in the Executive Mansion in Albany sometime in November 2020, possibly on the 16th of that month, according to James’ report.

“For over three months, Executive Assistant #1 kept this groping incident to herself and planned to take it ‘to the grave,’ but found herself becoming emotional (in a way that was visible to her colleagues in the Executive Chamber) while watching the Governor
state, at a press conference on March 3, 2021, that he had never ‘touched anyone
inappropriately,’ ” the report says.

The woman confided in colleagues who told senior staff members in the governor’s office, according to the report.

Cuomo’s lawyers sought to cast doubt on the aide’s account during a press conference Friday. Rita Glavin, the governor’s personal defense lawyer, said evidence including emails contradicted what happened the day the woman said she was groped, pinpointing it as Nov. 16, 2020.

“This woman’s story, as stated as fact in the report, is false,” Glavin said. “The documentary evidence does not support what she said.”

But the aide’s lawyer, Brian Premo, said after the press conference that his client did not recall the exact date the groping took place.

“She never said Nov. 16 and as far as their allegation that she wasn’t there the day that happened — that’s wrong. She was there the day he did what she alleged. She will further respond in due course,” Premo said.

The woman also alleged Cuomo grabbed her butt when they took a selfie together in 2019.

A spokesman for James said after Friday’s press conference that “There are 11 women whose accounts have been corroborated by a mountain of evidence. Any suggestion that attempts to undermine the credibility of these women or this investigation is unfortunate.”

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