Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been charged with forcible touching.
Cuomo, who has repeatedly denied all allegations of inappropriate touching, is being charged with a misdemeanor complaint that is categorized as a sex crime, a court official told the Washington Examiner.
"A Misdemeanor Complaint against former Governor Andrew Cuomo has been filed in Albany City Court," Lucian Chalfen, the director of public information for the New York State Unified Court System, told the Washington Examiner Thursday. "As this is a sex crime, a redacted complaint will be available shortly."
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The criminal complaint against Cuomo, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Examiner, was signed by an investigator with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office who is assigned to the Criminal Investigations Unit, with the police officer accusing the former governor of committing the class A misdemeanor of “Unwanted Touching” against an unnamed victim.
The police officer says that on Dec. 7, 2020, while at the New York governor’s mansion, Cuomo “did intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim [REDACTED] and onto her intimate body part, specifically, the victim’s left breast.” The complaint says that “a person is guilty of Forcible Touching when such person intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person, or for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire.”
The filing was met with some confusion upon the announcement of the charges, as the criminal summons was issued without the consent of the alleged victim, according to the Albany Times-Union, which reported that no final decision had been made by the sheriff's department or the district attorney's office on whether to file charges, according to unnamed sources.
A spokesman for Cuomo referenced this reported error in his response to Thursday's filing.
"'Accidentally' filing a criminal charge without notification and consent of the prosecuting body doesn't pass the laugh test and this reeks of Albany politics and perhaps worse," Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said. "The fact that the AG — as predicted — is about to announce a run for governor is lost on no one. The truth about what happened with this cowboy sheriff will come out."
New York Attorney General Letitia James said the charges confirmed the findings of her Aug. 3 report.
"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," James said in a Thursday statement. "The criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report."
The former governor was accused of sexual misconduct during his decade in office, including an allegation that he reached under the victim's shirt and grabbed her breast while at the executive mansion in Albany, New York.
Even after Cuomo stepped down, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said he would continue his inquiry into him.
"It was never about his office, although I appreciate him putting the people of New York first and stepping aside," Apple said in August.
Cuomo resigned from office on Aug. 24 following the release of James's Aug. 3 report concluding that he sexually harassed at least 11 women, elevating then Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to the governorship. Hazel Crampton-Hays, a representative for Hochul, declined to comment Thursday.
The August report by James concluded that Cuomo “sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.” The investigation also “revealed that the Governor’s sexually harassing behavior was not limited to members of his own staff, but extended to other State employees, including a State Trooper on his protective detail" and members of the public.
Despite stepping down, Cuomo has repeatedly railed against James's "unjust" report, and Rita Glavin, his attorney, called last week for an independent review into the attorney general's report, which contained "glaring omissions and deficiencies," Glavin argued.
James, widely believed to be a 2022 gubernatorial hopeful, shot back that Glavin's calls were a distraction.
"Another day, another baseless attack by the former governor who resigned so he didn't have to participate in an impeachment hearing. The most concerning part of today's charade was the former governor's attempt to stifle a legal criminal investigation into allegations that he used state resources for a book deal and personal profit," Fabien Levy, a representative for the attorney general's office, said in an email to the Washington Examiner, adding James would not be "bullied into shutting down this investigation."
In April, James received a referral from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to investigate whether "public resources [were] used in the development and promotion of the governor's book." So far, she has issued at least one subpoena to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics for its records on the book American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
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The former governor and the attorney general, once political allies, have been verbally sparring ever since James announced the findings of her report. Last month, James slammed Cuomo for not taking "responsibility for his own conduct" after Cuomo blasted his ouster as "politics."