NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A criminal charge has been filed against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
It stems from Attorney General Letitia James‘ sexual harassment investigation that led to his resignation in August, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.
READ MORE: Cuomo criminal complaint
The charge is forcible touching. The complaint, filed by the Albany County sheriff, charges Cuomo with intentionally touching a former aide, “for the purpose of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires.”
“What this tells me is the sheriff’s office believes the victim, has corroboration that backs up their claims, and they are ready to move forward,” state Sen. Todd Kaminsky told CBS2’s Dick Brennan.
The complaint came more than two months after former aide Brittany Commisso brought the case to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.
“To me, this was a dream job and it, unfortunately, turned into a nightmare,” Commisso said back in early August.
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Commisso was talking about her charge that Cuomo groped her at the Executive Mansion while working with him on his state of the state speech. At the time, he asked her to take a selfie using her phone.
The incident led to a formal misdemeanor complaint being filed by the Albany County sheriff.
“He put his hand up my blouse and cupped my breast over my bra. I exactly remember looking down, seeing his hand, which is a large hand, thinking to myself, ‘Oh my God, this is happening,’” Commisso said.
Prosecutors must show that Cuomo acted either to degrade his victim, or for his own sexual gratification. The charge is a Class A misdemeanor.
“Although the law is classified as a misdemeanor, it doesn’t mean that this is not serious. It just means the Legislature has decided that this should not be punishable by more than one year in jail,” legal expert Brian Wagner told Brennan. “The governor is now on notice that there is a criminal court complaint that he needs to answer. He’ll go to court, plead not guilty, and the case will be adjourned.”
According to Commisso’s attorney, the action taken against Cuomo actually came as a surprise.
“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,” attorney Brian Premo said. “It was her understanding that the sheriff’s office had also agreed to that process since the district attorney is the prosecuting authority. She was surprised by the turn of events, but she has been and will remain a resolute, cooperating victim in pursuit of blind justice.”
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James said in a statement what happened Thursday adds even more credibility to her report.
“From the moment my office received the referral to investigate allegations that former Gov. 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,” James said.
Rita Glavin, Cuomo’s attorney said, “Gov. 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,, one, his Aug. 7 press conference, where he essentially pronounced the governor guilty before doing an investigation, and, two, his office’s leaking of grand jury information. This is not professional law enforcement; this is politics.”
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Added Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi: “‘Accidentally’ 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. The truth about what happened with this cowboy sheriff will come out.”
Cuomo has been summoned to appear in court on Nov. 17.
Read more here CBS New York