Former New York governor’s attorney and spokesperson reject charges as politically motivated and improperly handled by law enforcement
The sheriff of Albany County in New York claims that law enforcement has collected “overwhelming” evidence against former Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was charged in a criminal complaint for allegedly groping an aide while he was in office.
Sheriff Craig Apple also told reporters on 29 October that his office was surprised how quickly the case moved through the court system, shortly after the sheriff’s office filed the complaint in Albany City Court.
“We were expecting the documents to be reviewed,” Mr Apple said. “We weren’t expecting a five-minute turnaround.”
But he insists his office brought forward a “solid case” with “an overwhelming amount evidence” and ongoing cooperation from the alleged victim, he said.
Mr Cuomo’s first appearance for his arraignment is currently scheduled for 17 November.
Law enforcement has accused the former governor – who resigned from his third term in office in August following widespread allegations of sexual harassment and abuse and the likelihood of a weeks-long impeachment investigation – of “forcibly” touching the victim at the governor’s mansion “for the purposes of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires.”
“Forcible touching” is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to one year in prison, if convicted.
A report from the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Mr Cuomo of “engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”
In a 16-minute pre-recorded video message that served as his final public appearance in office, Mr Cuomo continued to dismiss the allegations against him as politically motivated.
Mr Cuomo’s attorney Rita Glavin criticised Mr Apple for filing the complaint without first consulting Albany County district attorney David Soares, whose office is responsible for prosecuting cases.
“Governor Cuomo has never assaulted anyone, and Sheriff Apple’s motives here are patently improper,” Ms Glavin said on Thursday.
In a statement on Thursday, Mr Soares said, “Like the rest of the public, we were surprised to learn … that a criminal complaint was filed.”
Mr Apple told reporters on Friday that “if we consulted with the district attorney on every misdemeanor there would be no justice in this county.”
“Would I have liked to? Absolutely,” he said. “Everything moved too fast … but needless to say, as far as the case goes, it has no effect on the case. Our victim is cooperative, and we’re moving forward.”
Attorney General James – who announced her intention to run for governor on Friday – said the charges “validate the findings in our report.”
“From the moment my office received the referral to investigate allegations that former Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, we proceeded without fear or favor,” she said in a statement shared by her office on Thursday.
Mr Cuomo’s spokesperson Rich Azzopardi has accused the attorney general of using her office to “attack the governor for political benefit” and that Mr Apple is “seeking headlines and not justice.”