Disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo was charged Thursday with groping a former aide in Albany’s Executive Mansion — a crime that could force him to register as a sex offender if he’s convicted.
A misdemeanor criminal complaint filed in Albany City Court alleges that Cuomo, 63, “did intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim…and onto her intimate body part.”
“Specifically, the victims [sic] left breast for the purposes of degrading and satisfying his sexual desire,” it adds.
The incident allegedly took place on the afternoon of Dec. 7 on the second floor of the Executive Mansion, the governor’s official residence.
The name of the alleged victim was redacted from the complaint but a lawyer representing former Cuomo aide Brittany Commisso, 33, acknowledged it’s her.
The complaint charges Cuomo with forcible touching, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
The alleged evidence against him includes a text message from Cuomo’s cell phone, state police aviation records for Dec. 7 and news reports of a press conference that day, state police Blackberry PIN messages, swipe card records from the state Capitol, and Commisso’s testimony to the Attorney General’s Office.
A summons has been issued directing the former governor to appear in Albany City Court on Nov. 17, according to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office and the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.
Cuomo is expected to surrender to authorities sometime next week to be arrested and booked, sources said.
If convicted as charged, Cuomo would have to register as a sex offender and a judge would decide on his likely risk of committing another sex crime.
If he were deemed to pose a moderate or high risk to the community, his photograph, name, address and other information would be posted online.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares opened a criminal investigation of Cuomo on Aug. 3, shortly after state Attorney General Letitia James detailed the alleged groping incident in a report that accused the then-governor of sexually harassing 11 women, including nine current or former state workers.
Six days later, Commisso, an administrative assistant in the governor’s office, went public in a tearful interview on “CBS This Morning” during which she said Cuomo “put his hand up my blouse and cupped my breast over my bra” inside Albany’s Executive Mansion in November.
“The governor needs to be held accountable,” said Commisso, 33.
“What he did to me was a crime. He broke the law.”
In a statement Thursday evening, Soares said, “Like the rest of the public, we were surprised to learn today that a criminal complaint was filed in Albany City Court by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office against Andrew Cuomo.”
“The Office of Court Administration has since made that filing public. Our office will not be commenting further on this case,” he added.
During her “CBS This Morning” interview, Commisso said the alleged groping incident capped a series of incidents during which Cuomo subjected her to unwanted touching that included hugs unlike those “he would give his mother or his brother.:
“These are hugs with the intention of getting some personal sexual satisfaction out of it,” she said.
“And then, they started to be hugs with kisses on the cheek. And then there was at one point, a hug, and when he went to kiss me on the cheek, he quickly turned his head and kissed me on the lips.”
Commisso also alleged that Cuomo touched her rear end while they posed for a selfie together on New Year’s Eve 2019, after working on his upcoming “State of the State” speech.
“He was to my left. I was on the right. With my right hand, I took the selfie,” she said.
“I then felt while taking the selfie, his hand goes down my back onto my butt, and he started rubbing it. Not sliding it. Not, you know, quickly brushing over it — rubbing my butt.”
In an earlier, anonymous interview with the Albany Times Union, Commisso said the alleged groping incident came after she was summoned to the Executive Mansion to help Cuomo with his cellphone.
Cuomo — who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing — announced his resignation the day after Commisso appeared on “CBS This Morning,” saying that “my instinct is to fight” but “the best way I can help now is if I step aside.”
Cuomo’s looming arrest is believed to be the reason that James decided to tell a key union leader on Wednesday that she’ll launch a campaign for governor “shortly,” the source briefed on the matter said.
James is expected to announce her primary challenge of Gov. Kathy Hochul ahead of Cuomo’s arrest, the source briefed on the matter said.
In a prepared statement, James said, “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.”
“The criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report,” she added.
Thursday’s complaint was sworn out by an investigator with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.
In a prepared statement, Sheriff Craig Apple said, “Sheriff’s Investigators have been conducting an investigation into former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo since August 5, 2021 for a criminal complaint of forcible touching and have determined that there was enough probable cause to present evidence to the court.”
On Aug. 7, Apple held a news conference at which he said Cuomo could face “a couple of misdemeanors” based on a complaint filed by Commisso a day earlier.
“At this point, I’m very comfortable and safe saying she is, in fact, a victim,” he added.
On Aug. 30, Commisso spent “several hours” being interviewed by investigators after law enforcement officials issued several subpoenas related to her allegations, Apple has said.
In accounts of her interviews, the alleged groping incident was said to have taken place in November and the AG’s report specified Nov. 16.
Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin has seized on that date to attack Commisso’s credibility, saying, “The documentary evidence does not support what she said.”
Commisso’s lawyer, Brian Premo, has countered that she “has consistently said and testified that she does not know the date.”
The alleged groping of Commisso is the most serious incident detailed in James’ report, which also accused Cuomo of grabbing women’s butts and running his hand across the belly of a female state trooper assigned to his protective detail.
In addition to Soares, four other New York district attorneys — in Manhattan as well as Nassau, Westchester and Oswego counties — have said they’re investigating various allegations contained in James’ report.
In a statement, Glavin said, “Governor Cuomo has never assaulted anyone, and Sheriff Apple’s motives here are patently improper. Sheriff Apple didn’t even tell the District Attorney what he was doing.”
“But Apple’s behavior is no surprise given (1) his August 7 press conference where he essentially pronounced the Governor guilty before doing an investigation, and (2) his Office’s leaking of grand jury information. This is not professional law enforcement; this is politics,” she added.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi also said that “filing a criminal charge without notification and consent of the prosecuting body doesn’t pass the laugh test and this process reeks of Albany politics and perhaps worse.”
“The fact that the AG — as predicted — is about to announce a run for governor is lost on no one,” he added.
“The truth about what happened with this cowboy sheriff will come out.”
Apple responded by saying, “I would expect nothing less from that camp. We get paid to protect people and help people that’s exactly what we are doing.”
Premo told The Post that Commisso “was surprised by the turn of events but she has been and will remain a resolute cooperating victim in pursuit of blind justice.”
“It was my client’s understanding that the district attorney’s office would conduct a thorough apolitical investigation into the matter and then discuss all relevant issues with my client before any decision was made about whether a criminal action would be commenced only after she gave her informed consent,” he said.
“It was her understanding that the sheriff’s office had also agreed to that process since the district attorney is the prosecuting authority.”
In response to Premo’s comments, Apple said, “I’m not sure why [he] would say that.”
“We have been in contact with her all along and she has always insisted on moving forward,” Apple said.
“And we conducted a very impartial and thorough investigation. Not rushed but very methodical.”
A lawyer for two other women referenced in James’s report — Alyssa McGrath, a co-worker and friend of Commisso, and Virginia Limmiats — said that “Cuomo is being held to account as he should be, including by being forced to answer a criminal charge.”
“We hope that all men who abuse their power by abusing women will see this and understand that there will be real consequences to their profoundly damaging behavior,” lawyer Mariann Wang added.
Additional reporting by Larry Celona