In a single page packing an outsized punch, the redacted misdemeanor complaint against former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) reveals little factual information, but a little-noticed detail lays out an intriguing alleged chronology to the politician’s stunning downfall. In the document, authorities claim that Cuomo groped a woman’s breast on Dec. 7, 2020. That’s just two days before one of Cuomo’s former special advisers called him “one of the biggest abusers of all time” in a tweet.
Ex-adviser Lindsay Boylan became the first to accuse the former governor of sexual misconduct — sparking a scandal that later snowballed into a resignation. Several months would pass before a scathing New York Attorney General report effectively ended Cuomo’s tenure by documenting accusations by 10 more women. One of those women, former executive assistant Brittany Commisso, alleged Cuomo committed a “crime” by groping her breast; she has publicized her cooperation with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the complaint obtained by Law&Crime, Cuomo “committed the Class A misdemeanor of Forcible Touching” under Section 130.52 of the New York State Penal Law while on the second floor of the governor’s mansion between 3:51 p.m. and 4:07 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2020.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, who brought the case, claimed at a press conference on Friday that the evidence was “overwhelming.”
“She Was Informed About the Recent Filing Through the Media”
Only one of the 11 women mentioned in the investigative report conducted by New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office accused him of that type of conduct: Executive Assistant #1, who later stepped forward as Commisso.
In her interview with CBS This Morning and the Albany Times Union, Commisso provided two dates that she claims Cuomo groped her: she says Cuomo “rubbed [her] butt” during a selfie on New Year’s Eve of 2019 and alleged Cuomo groped her breast in November 2020.
“I exactly remember looking down, seeing his hand, which is a large hand, thinking to myself: ‘Oh my God. This is happening,'” Commisso told the network.
“He didn’t say anything when I stopped it,” Commisso continued. “He just pulled away and walked away.”
The criminal complaint contains a similar account, alleging Cuomo “forcibly place[d] his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim [REDACTED] and onto her intimate body part.”
“Specifically, the victim’s left breast for the purposes of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires,” it continues.
Asked about the timeline at Friday’s press conference, Sheriff Apple noted that the attorney general’s report said that the alleged victim was unsure of the date and that his investigation pinned it down to Dec. 7, 2020.
Commisso’s attorney Brian Premo claimed to have been blindsided by the filing of the criminal complaint.
“It is my client’s understanding that the district attorney’s office was in agreement with the sheriff’s department that it was going to conduct a thorough, impartial and apolitical evaluation of the case, and only after completion of the investigation, speak to my client to allow her to make an informed decision as to whether she would proceed as a victim in the case,” Premo told the Times Union.
“Like the district attorney’s office, she was informed about the recent filing through media,” he added.
At Friday’s press conference, Sheriff Apple said that he intended to confer with the alleged victim and Albany District Attorney David Soares—but that the charing document was disclosed prematurely.
Apple did not deny that the alleged victim’s identity is now public, and he said that may have complicated the case.
“Yeah, it did make it a little harder,” Apple said. “But again, this person wanted to seek justice and has been with us every step of the way.”
Premo did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s press inquiry about the incident and the timeline, but Apple claimed that he was surprised as anyone about the disclosure.
“I Could Get in a Lot of Trouble”
Two days after Cuomo’s alleged misdemeanor sex crime, another prominent accuser—Lindsey Boylan—posted the first an in increasingly acute series of tweets that publicly launched the scandal.
“I’ve been getting all these messages from people I won’t be sharing, because it’s their truth, but I must say, @NYGovCuomo will go down as one of the biggest abusers of all time,” Boylan tweeted. “Will it take decades more for this to become common knowledge?”
Cited in the attorney general report, Boylan’s initial message about Cuomo occurred on Dec. 9, 2020. Boylan later directly accused Cuomo of harassment in a separate tweet thread on Dec. 13, 2020, some four days later.
“Yes, @NYGovCuomo sexually harassed me for years,” Boylan tweeted on Dec. 13. “Many saw it, and watched.” She did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s request for comment via Twitter.
A footnote of the report states that Cuomo told Commisso after the tweet: “you don’t talk about anything with anyone else, right[?] … [Y]ou know, people talk around here….I could get in a lot of trouble.”
The alleged Cuomo quote received little attention, as it was contained the 1,090th footnote of a 168-page report.
Boylan served as Chief of Staff to the CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation and later as Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Special Advisor to the Governor. She claims that Cuomo sexually harassed her and made inappropriate comments like “let’s play strip poker.” The attorney general report recounts how her prolific tweets that day sent the Executive Chamber into damage control.
That day, the report states, Cuomo’s then-top aide Melissa DeRosa reached out to his then-lawyer Alphonso David in a “text to say that she needed to see Ms. Boylan’s ‘full file.'”
David, who was then president of the Human Rights Campaign, responded that Cuomo’s special counsel Janet Mogul should be able to provide the file for the time when Ms. Boylan worked in the Chamber. The lawyer was since ousted from his Human Rights Campaign position.
The sheriff’s misdemeanor information filed against Cuomo on Thursday claims investigators have gathered substantial evidence backing the allegations, including New York State Police Aviation records, New York State Police Blackberry PIN messages, a text message from the ex-governor’s phone, and contemporaneous media coverage of the Dec. 7, 2020, event.
Cuomo’s attorney Rita Glavin did not respond to multiple press inquiries by Law&Crime.
Aaron Keller and Matt Naham contributed to this report.
(Photo via Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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