ALBANY, N.Y. (WHEC) — Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not be prosecuted over an allegation he groped an aide in the Governor’s mansion.
The decision Tuesday by the Albany County District Attorney has a lot of people asking, “Why?” Just days before his arraignment on a misdemeanor charge of forcible touching, Cuomo is off the hook.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares said he dropped the case because he couldn’t prove it.
“While we found the complainant in this case cooperative and credible, after review of all the available evidence we have concluded that we cannot meet our burden at trial,” Soares said.
Here’s some background: The Albany Sheriff’s Office filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo in October. Brittany Commisso claims the former governor touched her inappropriately on two occasions. In one of them near the end of 2020, she and Cuomo were together, alone, in the governor’s mansion when she says he put his hand up her blouse and cupped her breast over her bra.
“In this case my client had no control over the filing or prosecution of criminal charges. She had no authority or voice in those decisions. The only thing she has any power over is her resolution to continue to speak the truth and seek justice in an appropriate civil action which she will do in due course,” said Commisso’s lawyer.
News10NBC spoke with Tully Rinckey Managing Partner Peter Pullano. He said a prosecutor dropping a charge before there’s even an arraignment is very rare.
“I’ve never seen a prosecutor’s office operate this way,” Pullano said. “We tend to see these kinds of prosecutorial decisions, where the rich and the famous are involved. I don’t think the prosecution’s decisions are the same in an everyday case. I think in those cases prosecutors are more likely just to leave things to the jury.”
Cuomo was due to be arraigned on the forcible touching charge in court in Albany on Friday, Jan. 7. He has repeatedly denied the accusations and his lawyers have said the case was politically motivated. If he had been convicted of the charge he would have faced up to a year in jail.
“I, like most New Yorkers, remain deeply troubled by allegations like the ones at issue here. Such conduct has no place in government or in any workplace. Although avenues for criminal prosecution in these cases are sometimes limited, I encourage victims of workplace harassment and abuse to continue to come forward and bring these issues to light so that these important discussions can continue,” commented District Attorney Soares.
The decision by Soares to drop the criminal charge does not stop any civil cases.
An attorney representing two other Cuomo accusers says her clients are disappointed, but not surprised by the DA’s decision.
“Unfortunately, our penal laws and system frequently do not properly punish the acts of so many abusive men in power. Cuomo’s conduct was nonetheless unlawful and deeply harmful to the women who were subjected to it, as the Attorney General and Assembly found in their reports. My clients remain grateful for those investigations and above all to the other women who had the courage to come forward. Cuomo and men like him should not be in positions of power,” said Mariann Wang.