Cuomo Faces an ‘Overwhelming’ Sex-Crime Case, Sheriff Says
(Bloomberg) -- The Albany County sheriff said he has a “solid case” against former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who was charged with a misdemeanor sex crime two months after resigning from office.
“We have an overwhelming amount of evidence,” Sheriff Craig Apple said at a press conference on Friday. Apple said his office had conducted a “methodical” investigation over almost four months, including search warrants, data collection, numerous witness interviews and the review of thousands of documents.
Cuomo was charged Thursday by the sheriff’s office with forcible touching or placing his hand under an unidentified woman’s blouse and groping her in the governor’s mansion on Dec. 7. He has been ordered to appear in Albany City Court on Nov. 17.
Cuomo resigned in August after Attorney General Letitia James released a report detailing a pattern of alleged harassment against female state employees and other women. Several local district attorneys, including Albany District Attorney David Soares, said at the time they would launch criminal investigations.
Representatives of Cuomo have sharply criticized the sheriff for failing to coordinate the criminal complaint with Soares, who said on Thursday he was “surprised” by the filing.
“What Sheriff Apple did not say today is that the allegation is totally uncorroborated, and has been evolving since March,” Cuomo’s lawyer Rita Glavin said in a statement Friday. “What Sheriff Apple did say about doing a ‘separate’ investigation from the DA, with ‘our victim,’ speaks volumes about his professed objectivity.”
Glavin said Cuomo never assaulted anyone and that the filing of the charge, the day before James announced her candidacy for governor, suggested “the heavy hand of politics.” She said Cuomo would “challenge every aspect of the specious, inconsistent and uncorroborated allegations made against him.”
James has defended her investigation.
“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 Thursday. “The criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report.”
Apple said at the press conference that a document summarizing the evidence against Cuomo that his office had sent to Albany City Court for review was leaked. Otherwise, he said, he would have discussed the matter with Soares before proceeding and notified Glavin.
The sheriff said he would probably meet with the DA’s office next week to turn the case over and was confident Soares would move ahead with the prosecution. He said the confusion caused by the leak didn’t reflect the quality of the case.
“We knew everybody would be watching this investigation,” Apple said. “We try, every single investigation, to conduct it the same way, and our primary goal is to protect the people and protect the victims and complainants.” He said the sheriff’s office is “an apolitical organization.”
Soares’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.
James’s report brought to an ignominious end Cuomo’s decades-long political career, only months after it had arguably reached its zenith. Widely praised for his daily press conferences in the early months of the pandemic, Cuomo was considered a possible future Democratic presidential contender.
But James’s investigation found that he had violated multiple federal and state harassment laws based on allegations from accusers who said Cuomo had engaged in unsolicited hugs, kisses and touches and made inquiries about their sex lives. He allegedly even asked one woman to play strip poker while on a government plane.
Cuomo has admitted being “too familiar” with people but has denied sexually harassing or groping anyone. Calling James’s report biased and politically motivated, Glavin earlier this month asked for a new investigation into his conduct.
By resigning, Cuomo avoided what was expected to be lengthy impeachment proceedings in the state assembly, which said there were constitutional barriers to impeaching a governor who was no longer in office.
For Cuomo, that also meant he was legally able to run for office again, and some have suggested he may seek a political comeback. But if he’s convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, he would be barred from holding public office in New York, according to the New York State Unified Court System website.
At his court appearance next month, Cuomo will be processed and likely released, Apple said.
The case is People v. Cuomo, Albany City Court (Albany, New York).
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.