Photo: The Canadian Press
Albania’s top prosecutor said on Tuesday he was dropping a criminal charge accusing former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of pampering an aide.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares’ decision comes three days before the Democratic ex-governor was due to respond to the charge of misconduct in court.
“Although we found the complainant in this case cooperative and credible, we have, after reviewing all available evidence, concluded that we are unable to bear our burden during the trial,” Soares said in a statement. He said he was “deeply concerned” about the allegation, but requested that a complaint filed by the county sheriff in October be dismissed.
The criminal prosecution accused Cuomo of coercion. Soares had suggested that the complaint was problematic.
The sheriff’s complaint did not name the woman, but she has identified herself as Brittany Commisso. She was one of Cuomo’s executive assistants before resigning over allegations of sexual abuse in August.
“Commisso” had no control over the filing or prosecution of criminal charges. She had no authority or voice in those decisions, “her lawyer, Brian Premo, said in a statement Monday.
“The only thing she has any power over is her decision to continue telling the truth and seek justice in an appropriate civil lawsuit, which she will do in her time,” he added.
There was no immediate comment from Cuomo, who resigned in August.
The Times-Union of Albany first reported that the charge would be dropped.
Commisso says Cuomo slipped his hand up over her blouse and grabbed her breast as they were alone in an office at the governor’s mansion in Albany in late 2020.
Her testimony was included in a report released in August by Attorney General Letitia James, which concluded that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women. Cuomo announced his departure a week after the publication of the report, which he has attacked as inaccurate and biased.
“I knew, and he also knew it was wrong,” Commisso investigators told the Attorney General’s office. “And that I in no way, shape or form invited to it, nor did I ask for it. I did not want that. “
Cuomo has vehemently refused to grope Commisso.
“I would have to lose my mind to do something – something like that. It would be an act of insanity to touch a woman’s breast and make myself vulnerable to a woman for such an accusation,” Cuomo told lawyers investigating. accusations of sexual harassment for the public prosecutor, a fellow Democrat.
Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin has said Commisso had an “evolving version” of what happened.
In October, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple’s office filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo, accusing him of coercion in connection with the Commission’s claim.
Soares later criticized Apple for “unilaterally and inexplicably” filing a complaint without first consulting its office. The prosecutor criticized Apple’s application as “potentially defective” by asking a judge to postpone Cuomo’s prosecution from November to January.
Apple has said the court papers were processed quickly before he had a chance to consult with the district attorney. But he said he was confident in the strength of the case.
The Associated Press does not identify individuals who say they have been sexually abused unless they decide to tell their stories in public, as Commisso has done in interviews.
Several prosecutors around the state initiated investigations following the Attorney General’s report.
The development in Albany comes after two prosecutors in the New York suburbs separately announced that Cuomo would not be charged with charges involving other women.
A Long Island prosecutor announced on December 23 that there would be no indictment after a female state soldier on Cuomo’s security detail told state investigators that he ran his hand over her abdomen at an event in Belmont Park in September 2019.
Five days later, the Westchester County District Attorney announced that Cuomo would not be charged with allegations by the same troops and another woman that the former governor had planted unwanted kisses on their cheeks.
In both cases, prosecutors said the allegations were credible but could not prosecute.
On Monday, a lawyer for Cuomo said the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office told him it had closed an investigation into how Cuomo’s office handled nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic. The office declined to comment.
The office did not disclose what it was looking at, but Cuomo faced scrutiny over his administration’s reporting on the deaths of nursing home residents and over an order preventing homes from rejecting healing hospital patients because they had COVID-19.
Federal prosecutors have also investigated the issue of deaths in nursing homes.
The state’s attorney, meanwhile, has been investigating Cuomo’s use of helpers to help create and promote his pandemic memoirs. Cuomo said they volunteered using their personal time.