NEW YORK — A woman who accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of groping her breast at the governor’s state residence has 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. Its filing is a potential first step toward bringing criminal charges.
“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.
The Cuomo aide who filed the report has accused him of reaching under her shirt and fondling her when they were alone in a room 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.
Cuomo’s lawyer, Rita Glavin, didn’t immediately address the criminal complaint in an online briefing with reporters, but said the groping allegation — which was also outlined in newspaper articles and in a report released by the New York attorney general’s office — was fabricated.
“He is 63 years old, he has spent 40 years in public life and for him to all of the sudden be accused of a sexual assault of an executive assistant that he really doesn’t know, doesn’t pass muster,” Glavin said.
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.
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 in November 2020.
According to the woman, Cuomo pulled her in for a hug as she prepared to leave the governor’s office at the mansion. 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.”
Cuomo has adamantly denied touching her breasts, saying “I would have to lose my mind to do such a thing.”
Records confirm that the woman was at the mansion for several hours on Nov. 16 and had at least one interaction with the governor, but Glavin said she also sent emails to staff while she was in the building that didn’t mention that anything upsetting had happened.
Mariann Wang, the attorney for two other accusers, said the governor’s lawyers are ignoring any fear the employees had of being punished by Cuomo if they complained.
“The fact that any assistant might try to continue with her day or act ‘normal’ even after being harassed brutally is something many women who have been harassed at work understand,” Wang said. “These women are trying to survive.”
The woman told investigators she had initially planned to take the harassment claims “to the grave.”
Fabien Levy, press secretary and senior advisor to New York Attorney General Letitia James, put out a statement saying the AG was appalled by the press conference
“After multiple women made accusations that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed them, the governor, himself, requested that Attorney General James oversee an independent investigation,” said Levy. “The independent investigators selected are widely respected professionals, recognized for their legal and investigatory ability. To attack this investigation and attempt to undermine and politicize this process takes away from the bravery displayed by these women.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.