Cuomo faces multiple criminal investigations for sexual misconduct

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference on July 14, 2021 in New York City. | Spencer Platt / Getty Images

NEW YORK – Governor Andrew Cuomo is the subject of four potential criminal investigations into findings that he sexually harassed and inappropriately touched several women.

Manhattan, Nassau County and Westchester County district attorneys said on Wednesday they were reviewing the evidence in the case, after the Albany County district attorney announced his own investigation on Tuesday.

A report by state attorney general Letitia James found Cuomo violated state and federal laws and documented several incidents in which he touched women without their consent. Still, legal experts have said the criminal charges against the governor are far from a slam dunk.

Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. is investigating “potential sex crimes” committed by the governor, according to a letter to the AG’s office.

“When our office learned yesterday that the Attorney General’s investigation into the governor’s conduct was complete, our office contacted the Attorney General’s office to begin requesting investigative documents in their possession regarding incidents in Manhattan.” said Danny Frost, spokesperson for Vance. .

The chief prosecutor for Nassau County on Long Island also plans to investigate the governor’s actions.

“We are examining the deeply troubling findings of the attorney general’s report regarding the governor’s alleged conduct,” said Joyce Smith, acting DA of Nassau. “We have requested the attorney general’s records of any incident that has arisen in Nassau County and will thoroughly and expeditiously investigate any potential crime. “

And Westchester DA Mimi Rocah has confirmed a probe.

“Yesterday our office saw the final independent report from Attorney General Letitia James’s office regarding the conduct of Governor Andrew Cuomo. As some of the governor’s conduct described in the report occurred in Westchester County, we have formally requested investigative documents obtained by the attorney general’s office, ”she said in a statement. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we will not comment further at this time.”

The attorney general’s office report documented misconduct in several jurisdictions. They include Albany, where the Governor lives in the Executive Mansion and works in the State Capitol; Manhattan, where he has an office; Westchester, where he lived with his former girlfriend in Mount Kisco, and Nassau, where he attended an event.

The governor groped the chest of an executive assistant while she worked at the executive mansion in Albany, according to the report. The employee also testified that he touched and grabbed her buttocks on other occasions.

Cuomo also harassed and touched a state soldier who served in his security service, according to the AG’s investigation. The Soldier – who was assigned to Cuomo’s Retail despite not meeting certain minimum qualifications – first worked at the Governor’s Residence in Mount Kisco and was later transferred to his travel team.

The soldier testified that Cuomo kissed her on the cheek outside the Mount Kisco house, ran his hand over her stomach as she held an open door for him after an event in Belmont, Long Island, and ran his finger along his neck and spine. an elevator in his Manhattan office.

Cuomo’s actions, especially his alleged executive assistant fumbling, could constitute forced touching, a Class A misdemeanor under New York law.

“I have had situations where prosecutors have laid charges based on the type of trial and error described, that type of touching. But I wouldn’t say it’s common, ”said Kevin Mintzer, a lawyer who has represented victims of sexual harassment.

“The most common result is that while there may be a civil case to prosecute, no criminal charges are laid,” he said. “Ultimately, a prosecutor won’t want to press charges unless he finds that a jury is likely to find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The sexual harassment laws that Cuomo violated by making sexual comments and creating a hostile work environment are generally civil, not criminal.

Cuomo has denied many of the report’s findings. “I have never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” he said in a video broadcast Tuesday.

In a letter to the Attorney General’s office, Manhattan Assistant Attorney General Nitin Savur called for evidence relating to two “potential incidents of sex crimes” in Manhattan: he patted and grabbed her butt at an event in New York.

“In order to properly investigate these potential sex crimes, it is necessary that we speak with the two victims,” Savur wrote, asking for the contact details of the two women. “In addition, I request that you provide our office with all investigative documents regarding State Trooper # 1 and State Entity Employee # 1, as well as documents relating to any other incident in Manhattan, including, but not limited to y limit, interview transcripts, interview notes, all witness statements (oral and written) and electronic communications (text messages, emails, Blackberry pins and recorded conversations).

No police report has been filed with the NYPD and the department is not involved in any investigation, Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Wednesday during an appearance on PIX 11.

Rocah, the Westchester DA, wrote to James and requested transcripts and other evidence regarding the state soldier. “I think it is appropriate that my office conduct a further investigation to determine whether any of the reported behaviors that allegedly took place in Westchester County are criminal in nature,” she wrote.

Albany DA David Soares said on Tuesday he was formally requesting investigative documents from the attorney general.

“We are conducting our own separate investigation,” he said in an interview with NBC News. “It’s pretty clear that we have an obligation here, so we contacted the attorney general’s office to look for any evidence they found.”

But Soares said although prosecutors have contacted some of the accusers, they have not been able to contact any of them.

“For all the victims who are there (…) please contact our office, and we will conduct our investigation as quietly as possible,” he said.

U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn declined to comment through spokespersons.

Shannon Young contributed to this report.

Mark M. Gagnon