News and Analysis

Andrew Cuomo Charged With ‘Sex Crime’ In Albany, New York
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 09: Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo attends the Tribeca Festival Welcome Lunch during the 2021 Tribeca Festival at Pier 76 on June 09, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival)
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival

A misdemeanor criminal complaint was filed against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in Albany City Court on Thursday, charging Cuomo with a “sex crime”: the Class A misdemeanor of “forcible touching.”

The charge stems from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into complaints that the governor engaged in inappropriate behavior while in office. James’ office’s final report alleged that Cuomo groped a staff member’s breast at the governor’s mansion in Albany last December.

The complaint alleges that Cuomo “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.”

“The name of the alleged victim was redacted from the complaint but the allegations line up with those made by former Cuomo aide Brittany Commisso, 33,” the New York Post noted Thursday upon receiving a copy of the complaint. “On Aug. 30, Commisso spent “several hours” being interviewed by investigators after law enforcement officials issued several subpoenas related to her allegations, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple has said.”

The Albany Times-Union noted Thursday that an initial criminal complaint was filed erroneously, without redactions, against Commisso’s wishes, and against standard operating procedure for complaints alleging sex crimes. The New York court’s director of public information later confirmed the filing, however.

“A misdemeanor complaint against former Governor Andrew Cuomo has been filed in Albany City Court,”  New York Unified Court System Director of Public Information Lucian Chalfen, told media in a statement. “As this is a sex crime, a redacted complaint will be available shortly.”

“It’s unclear when the former governor will be arrested, booked and arraigned,” the New York Post noted, adding that a source told them that an arrest “would likely take place next week.” Cuomo could also turn himself in on the charges.

The charge is a Class A misdemeanor and, as such, carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine in most cases.

“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,” the Post noted. “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.”

For Cuomo, registering as a sex offender would likely complicate any further political campaigns.

Letitia James, the attorney general who submitted the report that ultimately produced the charge, is believed to be running for governor of the state of New York. A spokesperson for Cuomo predicted James’ likely future gubernatorial run in the days following the report.

Cuomo resigned days after the report dropped, despite believing the report was a “politically motivated hit job.” A bipartisan group of legislators was considering impeachment proceedings and Cuomo resigned rather than face an impeachment hearing.

Four other prosecutors in four other counties — Manhattan, Nassau, Westchester, and Oswego — have undertaken their own investigations into Cuomo-related incidents within their jurisdictions, according to the Post, and more charges could be forthcoming.

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