Albany, NY – A former executive assistant to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo filed a criminal complaint on Thursday afternoon with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office that alleged the governor had groped her, rubbed her butt, and kissed her on the lips.
The victim, identified only as “Executive Assistant #1” in the attorney general’s report released on Tuesday, met with investigators at the sheriff’s department on Aug. 5 to file charges against Cuomo, WTEN reported.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple confirmed the woman’s complaint had been referred to the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, the New York Post reported.
The Albany County district attorney confirmed that his office has launched a criminal probe of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The announcement came a day after New York Attorney General Letitia James released a bombshell report on her investigation into sexual harassment allegations against the governor.
James’ told reporters at a press conference to release the report on Aug. 3 that Cuomo had “sexually harassed multiple women, and in doing so violated federal and state law.”
“Executive Assistant 1” told sheriff’s investigators that she worked with Cuomo at the Executive Chamber and sometimes at the Executive Mansion on weekends, WTEN reported.
She had testified in the attorney general’s report that the governor pulled her in for a hug and fondled one of her breasts on Nov. 16, 2020, the New York Post reported.
“I mean it was—he was like cupping my breast. He cupped my breast,” the woman told investigators.
“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 and I remember it was like a little even in the cup—the kind of bra that I had to the point I could tell you doesn’t really fit me properly, it was a little loose, I just remember seeing exactly that,” the report quoted the victim as having told investigators.
She also said Cuomo groped her on Dec. 31, 2019 after he asked her to take a selfie with him in his office at the Executive Mansion, the New York Post reported.
The victim said that as she was taking the picture, Cuomo “moved his hand to grab her butt cheek and began to rub it” for at least five seconds, according to the attorney general’s report.
The report said the victim told investigators that she was shaking so badly during the interaction that the first pictures were blurry, the New York Post reported.
She said Cuomo sternly warned her not to share the selfie with anyone, according to the report.
The victim told investigators that she wanted to tell someone about the unwanted touching by the governor but was afraid she would lose her job, the New York Post reported.
She was specifically concerned she’d be fired if senior aides found out she had told someone.
“If Stephanie Benton or Melissa [DeRosa] heard that, I was going to lose my job. Because I knew that I certainly was going to be the one to go,” she told investigators.
Multiple victims have alleged that Cuomo aides Melissa DeRosa and Stephanie Benton were aware the governor had been sexually harassing a number of women but did nothing about it, the New York Post reported.
“Executive Assistant #1” told Albany County sheriff’s investigators on Aug. 5 that in addition to groping her breast and her butt, Cuomo had touched her intentionally on her “butt and the breast,” kissed her on the cheek at a 2019 holiday party, and “almost pushed his hand along [her] butt” during a private tour of the Executive Mansion, WTEN reported.
The victim also claimed the governor had quickly turned his head to kiss her on the lips during a hug.
Sheriff Apple said that Cuomo could be arrested if the allegations were substantiated, the New York Post reported.
“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,” the sheriff said.
“Just because of who it is we are not going to rush it or delay it,” he told the New York Post.
There was already a criminal probe of the governor underway.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares told NBC News on Tuesday night that his office had launched a criminal investigation of the Democratic governor.
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) August 3, 2021
“We are conducting our own separate investigation,” Soares told NBC News. “I think after today’s presentation [by James] — which here in Albany County, we were witnessing at the same time what the rest of New Yorkers were witnessing, it’s pretty clear that we have an obligation here, and thus we reached out to the attorney general’s office seeking all the evidence upon which they uncovered and relied upon to offer their report.”
He said the attorney general’s report had “led myself and other prosecutors with concurrent jurisdiction to believe that criminal activity in fact had taken place.”
“But we will conduct our own independent investigation that will be done expeditiously and we will arrive at those conclusions,” the district attorney told NBC News.
Soares said his office would need help from Cuomo’s victims to make a case.
“These cases are made with cooperation from our victims,” he said. “For any victim that’s out there, who’s watching this transmission, please reach out to our office and we will conduct our investigation as discreetly as possible.”
In the months leading up to the release of James’ investigative findings, President Joe Biden had refused to weigh in on the sexual harassment allegations against the governor despite a majority of Democratic New York lawmakers having called for Cuomo’s resignation.
On Tuesday, after the report was released, President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) both called for the New York governor to resign from office, CNN reported.
“I think he should resign,” the President said. “I understand that the state legislature may decide to impeach. I don’t know that for fact. I have not read all that data.”
Pelosi called on Cuomo to resign “out of respect for the office” of governor, CNN reported.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) were quick to put out a joint statement calling for Cuomo’s resignation shortly after James released her report.
“As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable,” the senators said. “Today’s report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories — and we commend the women for doing so.”
“No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign,” the New York senators added, according to CNN.
The attorney general told reporters that her investigation had determined that the governor had sexually harassed at least 11 women, CNBC reported.
The report said Cuomo engaged in nonconsensual touching, groping, kissing, and hugging, and made numerous inappropriate comments to multiple women.
James said Cuomo also retaliated against a former employee who came forward to expose his conduct.
She called the governor’s office a “toxic workplace,” CNBC reported.
The attorney general said the findings in the report revealed “a deeply disturbing, yet clear, picture” of what Cuomo had been doing to members of his staff, state employees, and members of the public.
James’ report claimed that one of the governor’s victims was a New York State Police trooper, CNBC reported.
The trooper told investigators that Cuomo has asked to add her to his protective detail shortly after meeting her in November of 2017, despite the fact she wasn’t qualified.
The report said the trooper alleged the governor had run his hand along her stomach as she held doors for him in the course of her duties, CNBC reported.
The trooper said Cuomo also ran his finger down her neck and back while she stood in front of him in an elevator, kissed her on the cheek in front of another trooper, and made suggestive remarks to her, according to the report.
She also said the governor asked her why she didn’t wear a dress and asked why the trooper would get married when marriage means “your sex drive goes down,” CNBC reported.
The report said Cuomo had asked the trooper to help him find a girlfriend and said he wanted to date a woman who “[c]an handle pain,” CNBC reported.
Other troopers corroborated the female trooper’s stories about the offensive treatment she received at the hands of the governor, and agreed he treated her differently than he treated the male troopers.
Cuomo posted a video statement defending himself shortly after James’ report was released during which he explained he had been counseling the female sexual harassment victim because of his experience helping a family members who had suffered the same.
CUOMO: "I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances." pic.twitter.com/KpFsCpajsh
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) August 3, 2021
But his excuse fell flat on both sides of the aisle and was deemed to be more creepy than explanatory by most critics.