By Setareh Jalali This is part of our Youth BIPOC Spotlight series that highlights young…
Gov. Cuomo aide files criminal complaint for alleged groping incident in 2020
By Setareh Jalali
One of the eleven women who have accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment on the job filed a criminal complaint with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday. She accuses the Governor of groping her breast at his state residence in November 2020.
The complaint comes after a non-criminal investigation by the state Attorney General into the claims of almost a dozen women concluded that Gov. Cuomo had in fact engaged in behavior constituting as sexual harassment. Executive Assistant #1, as she’s referred to in the investigation document, is the first to press criminal charges.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple told the New York Post it’s possible the Democratic governor could be arrested if investigators determine he committed a crime. Legal experts have said that the Governor could be charged with forcible touching, a misdemeanor that could land him in prison for up to a year.
Gov. Cuomo is under fire for his conduct, with many national leaders calling on him to resign, or else face impeachment. According to the Associated Press, lawyers working for the state Assembly sent a letter to Cuomo Thursday giving him until Aug. 13 to either respond to the allegations or provide documents that supplement his defense.
Cuomo has thus far denied touching anyone inappropriately, despite ten other women coming forward with similar stories of groping and inappropriate questions.
The woman told investigators that the day of the groping, she had been summoned to the Governor’s mansion by his office director, Stephanie Benton. She said it was as she was preparing to leave that the Governor pulled her in for a close hug, something she says he did often and played off as being an “affectionate” person. According to the report, when she pulled away the Governor slammed the door shut and approached her. She says she told him, “You’re going to get us in trouble,” to which he responded, “I don’t care.” He then slid his hand up her blouse and fondled her breast. She says she pulled away and told Mr. Cuomo, “You’re Crazy.”
For over three months, the woman kept the incident to herself and planned to take it “to the grave,” for fear of losing her position that she described as her “dream job.” That was until she watched the Governor state, at a press conference on March 3, 2021, that he had never “touched anyone inappropriately.” She found herself emotional enough that two of her coworkers noticed and asked if she was okay. That day she told them what had happened, and the two women reported the incident to senior staff in the Executive Chamber.
This may only be the first of criminal complaints against the Governor, as the lawyer for another of Mr. Cuomo’s accusers, Lindsey Boylan, said earlier this week that Ms. Boyland would file a lawsuit against Mr. Cuomo for retaliating against her after she went public with her accusations.