On Tuesday, prosecutors announced they have dropped a groping charge against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, marking the foreseeable end to a legal saga that led to Cuomo’s resignation.
The Albany County District Attorney said in a statement that they are not prosecuting Cuomo, 64, for forcible touching, as an independent investigation determined they could not reach the burden of proof. Albany police filed the charge against Cuomo in October 2021, amid allegations that he groped executive assistant Brittany Commisso’s breast in late 2020.
The Times-Union reported that Albany police filed the criminal charge against Cuomo without notifying prosecutors.
“While we found the complainant in this case cooperative and credible, after review of all the available evidence we have concluded that we cannot meet our burden at trial,” Albany County District Attorney David Soares said in Tuesday’s statement.
Cuomo resigned in late August, after the Attorney General’s Office’s released a 165-page report which determined he sexually harassed multiple women in the workplace, retaliated against one of his accusers for going public with her claims, and harbored a toxic work environment.
The embattled governor called for an independent probe into mounting sexual harassment allegations. In March, Attorney General James appointed former acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim and veteran employment lawyer Anne Clark to lead the investigation.
In light of the Attorney General’s report, Commisso filed a criminal complaint against the governor, claiming his unwanted touching was illegal.
Allegations of sexual harassment began mounting in late February when Cuomo’s former aide, Lindsey Boylan, detailed her alleged encounters with the governor in a Medium blog post. She wrote that Cuomo “abused his power” to sexually harass her and other women in the workplace.
Boylan, who reportedly first encountered Cuomo in January 2016, alleged he would routinely touch her lower back, legs, and arms. Boylan wrote that she resigned in September 2018 because Cuomo’s top aides became hostile towards her for “speaking up for myself.” She said her resignation was also influenced by an instance in which Cuomo kissed her on the lips at his New York City office.
In the weeks that followed Boylan’s blog post, five more women, including at least three aides, came forward and accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. Cuomo has denied inappropriately touching anyone but apologized for behaving in a manner that made his female colleagues uncomfortable.
The New York Times reported that prosecutors in Westchester and Nassau counties, who had investigated other sexual misconduct claims against Cuomo, also declined to indict the ex-governor prior to Tuesday’s announcement from Albany’s district attorney.
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[Featured image: Andrew Cuomo/Video screengrab]