ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) — A single-page complaint, signed by an investigator in the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, accuses former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, 63, of reaching under a woman’s shirt and groping her breast on the afternoon of Dec. 7, 2020, on the second floor of the governor's executive mansion in Albany.
The complaint charges Cuomo with a class A misdemeanor of forcible touching, for touching the victim’s left breast “for the purposes of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires.”
According to the portion of the complaint made public on Thursday, unreleased attachments to the misdemeanor complaint reportedly include a text message from Cuomo’s phone.
Cuomo resigned in August with the announcement coming after New York Attorney General Letitia James published a damning 168-page report recounting nearly a dozen instances of sexual harassment by Cuomo and a culture of fear and intimidation in his office.
James quickly released a statement on Thursday evening responding to the criminal charge against the former governor. “From the moment my office received the referral to investigate allegations that former Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, we proceeded without fear or favor," she wrote.
“The criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report,” wrote James, who is widely expected to enter the gubernatorial race as a formidable candidate for the Democratic nomination just months after publishing the damning investigative report that spurred Cuomo to resign last August.
Cuomo's personal attorney, Rita Glavin, denied the allegations of the Albany court complaint.
"Governor Cuomo has never assaulted anyone, and Sheriff Apple's motives here are patently improper," she wrote in a statement Thursday. "This is not professional law enforcement; this is politics."
Cuomo acceded to James’ independent investigation in early March 2021 after a second former employee of his administration went public with claims that the governor had harassed her.
As Cuomo transitioned the governor’s office to his second-in-command, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, he maintained that the attorney general’s report against him was an unfair “political firecracker” that started a rush to judgment, but consented to resign to prevent impeachment proceedings that would cost millions of dollars and months of litigation.
Two months later, Cuomo’s personal attorney Rita Glavin released a polemic video challenging the impartiality of James’ probe, which James’ office hastily dismissed as “another baseless attack by the former governor who resigned so he didn’t have to participate in an impeachment hearing.”
Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser and longtime Cuomo spokesman, penned an op-ed in the New York Daily News in August defending Cuomo as a victim of a conspiracy by the “socialist wing of the Democratic Party."
“With respect to the impending transition of power in the state Capitol, the answer is simple: Gov. Cuomo was railroaded," Azzopardi wrote amid a wave of staff departures.Follow @jruss_jruss
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