“The governor deserves to be treated fairly like anybody else in this country accused of something,” Cuomo’s personal attorney Rita Glavin said in a virtual news conference Friday afternoon. “He is 63 years old. He has spent 40 years in public life. And for him to all of a sudden be accused of a sexual assault of an executive assistant that he really doesn’t know doesn’t pass muster.”
She said the governor would rebut the attorney general’s report in upcoming impeachment proceedings expected in the state Assembly.
Cuomo has not been seen publicly since the 165-page report came out, other than a pretaped video response released on Tuesday. His political support has cratered, and on Monday, the judiciary committee of the Assembly is expected to meet in Albany as part of an accelerated impeachment investigation.
Meanwhile, the governor faces the prospect of deepening criminal inquiries. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple told the New York Post on Friday that his office had received a criminal complaint from a woman identified in the attorney general’s report as “Executive Assistant #1,” who accused Cuomo of multiple instances of sexual harassment, including groping her breast in the governor’s mansion. He has denied the allegation.
“The end result could either be it sounds substantiated and an arrest is made and it would be up to the DA to prosecute the arrest,” Apple told the New York Post, adding: “Just because of who it is we are not going to rush it or delay it.”
The executive assistant is one of 11 women whom the governor allegedly harassed in violation of state and federal laws, according to James’s investigation. The report also found that Cuomo’s office illegally retaliated against one of his accusers by trying to discredit her through leaking her personnel records and circulating a letter attacking her credibility.
A representative for the sheriff’s office on Friday confirmed a criminal complaint was received, but declined to offer more details. Apple did not return multiple requests for comment.
An attorney for the executive assistant did not respond to requests for comment.
Albany District Attorney David Soares, who earlier this week asked victims to come forward, confirmed a complaint had been filed in a radio interview Friday.
“There is an official report that is now filed with law enforcement,” he told WAMC.
At least four district attorney’s offices in New York state have sought information from the attorney general’s office and said they will investigate the governor’s conduct.
The executive assistant told investigators for the attorney general that Cuomo harassed her both verbally and physically.
One day, Cuomo allegedly told her it was “about time you showed some leg” when she wore a dress, she told investigators, and later asked if she had kissed or “fooled around” with someone other than her husband.
At one point, the governor allegedly said to her something like, “If you were single, the things I would do to you,” she recalled. In one incident, he allegedly asked her to take a selfie with him and then “moved his hand to grab her butt cheek and began to rub it,” the report said. The assistant said she was shaking so much that the photos were blurry.
In November, the assistant was dispatched to assist Cuomo at the executive mansion, the report said. As she was leaving, he slammed the door shut and slid his hand up her blouse, cupping her breast, according to the investigation. “I remember thinking to myself who — I knew what just went on, I knew and he knew too that was wrong,” she told investigators. “And that I in no way, shape or form invited that nor did I ask for it. I didn’t want it. I feel like I was being taken advantage of.”
The assistant told investigators from the attorney general’s office that she planned to take his actions “to her grave” but grew upset after hearing him deny inappropriately touching women.
On Friday, a spokesman for the governor reiterated Cuomo’s denial that he groped the assistant and said that the office notified law enforcement after she told a supervisor about her experience.
“As we said previously, we proactively made a referral nearly four months ago in accordance with state policies,” said Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor.
Cuomo’s lawyers did not address the criminal complaint during their news conference, but Glavin questioned the assistant’s account of the breast groping. She said a reconstruction of the events on Nov. 16, a possible date of the incident given in the report, showed that the assistant was on a different floor from the governor for much of the day and that she did not leave abruptly, but offered to continue working late at the mansion.
The attorney general’s report notes that the assistant was not certain of the date of the incident. But Glavin said that records show that Nov. 16 was the only day that month the assistant entered the mansion.
She also raised questions about the account of Lindsey Boylan, a former aide who accused the governor of harassment, saying witnesses who disputed her claim that Cuomo suggested a game of strip poker were not given credence.
“There has been no open-minded fact finding in this case,” Glavin said. “This investigation was conducted in a manner to support a predetermined narrative.”
Glavin and attorney Paul Fishman — the former U.S. attorney for New Jersey, who is representing the office of the governor — also raised a series of process concerns about the investigation, saying that they were not given a draft of the report ahead of time and they have not seen transcripts of the interviews with witnesses.
They also complained that the attorney general’s office did not fairly incorporate their responses in the report, particularly a memo challenging the notion that actions by Cuomo and his aides to discredit an accuser amounted to illegal retaliation.
Cuomo’s lawyers also issued an 11-page letter on Friday attacking the special deputies appointed by the attorney general — Joon Kim, for his ties to Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney who investigated Cuomo, and Anne Clark, because she is a well-known plaintiffs lawyer in sexual harassment cases. The letter said investigators had “unwarranted skepticism towards the governor and the chamber.”
Investigators were not required to provide a draft report to Cuomo’s office, and some in the attorney general’s orbit feared the governor would try to launch preemptive attacks on witnesses if he knew what they had said, according to people familiar with their views.
Fabien Levy, a spokesman for James, noted that Cuomo himself requested that the attorney general oversee an independent investigation.
“The independent investigators selected are widely respected professionals, recognized for their legal and investigatory ability,” he said. “To attack this investigation and attempt to undermine and politicize this process takes away from the bravery displayed by these women.”
Levy added: “There are 11 women whose accounts have been corroborated by a mountain of evidence. Any suggestion that attempts to undermine the credibility of these women or this investigation is unfortunate.”
Notably, Glavin declined in the news conference to address allegations made by a female state trooper that Cuomo inappropriately touched her, saying the governor himself would address them at an indeterminate point in the future. She said she did not know if the trooper was still on the governor’s detail, but added that Cuomo had a positive opinion of the trooper.
And she dismissed a question about whether steps had been taken to protect current aides working for Cuomo who have accused him of wrongdoing.
“The whole world is watching right now. People are not going to be retaliated against by Governor Cuomo,” Glavin said.
Deborah Katz, an attorney for Charlotte Bennett, a former aide who went public with her claims of harassment earlier this year, said in a statement after the news conference that Cuomo’s legal team was attacking the process because the evidence against him was overwhelming.
“The Governor has made clear he will continue his fight to stay in power, caring not at all about the people he has hurt and the consequences of his actions. It is time for the Assembly to act,” she said. “Further delay is an affront to the women who came forward and to survivors everywhere.”
Added Boylan in a tweet: “We will not be intimidated.”
Amy B Wang and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.