NEW YORK: Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will not face criminal charges after a female state soldier said she felt “completely raped” by his unwanted touching during an event at Belmont Park in September 2019, a Long Island prosecutor said Thursday.
Nassau County Acting Prosecutor Joyce Smith said in a statement that an investigation had found the allegations against Cuomo “credible, deeply troubling, but not criminal under New York law.”
Smith opened the investigation after details of the meeting emerged in Attorney General Letitia James’ August report into the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo. The report chronicled the accusations of 11 women and led to Cuomo’s resignation from office, although he criticized the findings as biased and inaccurate.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi did not directly address Smith’s decision in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
“With each passing day, it becomes more and more clear that the attorney general’s report was the intersection of serious misconduct on the part of prosecutors and an abuse of power by the government for political purposes,” said Azzopardi.
James’ report revealed that Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women in violation of federal and state civil rights laws. But she said prosecuting potential criminal penalties would be up to prosecutors.
According to the report, the soldier said Cuomo ran the palm of her left hand over her abdomen, down to her navel, and then down to her right hip, where she kept her gun, while she held a door for him. open as he left an event. at Belmont Park on September 23, 2019.
Cuomo was at the state-owned racetrack, which was home to the final stage of the Triple Crown of horse racing, to usher in a new arena for the NHL’s New York Islanders. The arena, adjacent to the main grandstand and the track paddock, opened last month.
The Soldier, a member of Cuomo’s Security Services, told James’s investigators that Cuomo’s conduct during the event made her feel “completely violated because to me like it’s between my chest and my parts. intimate “.
James’ report said that while the soldier was upset about Cuomo’s unwanted touching, she didn’t feel she could do anything about it.
âI am a soldier, newly assigned to the travel team. Do I want to make waves? No, âshe said, according to the report. âI’ve heard horror stories about people getting kicked out of details or being transferred as little things. … I had no intention of reporting it.
The soldier told James’s investigators that what happened at Belmont Park was just one of many examples of Cuomo’s “flirtatious” and “frightening” behavior towards him.
Once, in an elevator, he traced his finger from her neck to her back, she said. Another time, he asked to kiss her in the driveway outside her house in Mount Kisco and started pecking her cheek, she said.
“I remember just freezing, being – deep in my head I was like, oh, how do you say no politely?” she told investigators.
The Nassau County investigation was limited to the encounter in Belmont Park, which sits on the county’s border with New York City. Authorities in other parts of the state examined other allegations in James’ report.
In October, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office filed a groped complaint against Cuomo, but a week later, the district attorney asked a judge for more time to assess the evidence.
The prosecutor said the sheriff’s one-page criminal complaint, based on allegations by a woman who said Cuomo slipped her hand over her blouse and grabbed her chest in the governor’s mansion in late 2020, was “potentially defective”.
At the prosecutor’s request, a court postponed Cuomo’s scheduled arraignment until January 7.
Following the release of James’ report, the US Department of Justice launched a civil investigation in August into the sexual harassment allegations made against Cuomo. The exact nature of the investigation and its current status are unclear.