Albany prosecutor won’t pursue groping charge against Cuomo

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Andrew Cuomo prepares to board a helicopter after announcing his resignation on Aug. 10, 2021, in New York. | Seth Wenig, File/AP Photo

ALBANY, N.Y. — Prosecutors in Albany do not plan to pursue criminal charges against former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo after investigating an allegation that he had groped an aide in 2020.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares said in a statement Tuesday that he made the decision after coming to the conclusion he could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Cuomo had broken the law.

“While many have an opinion regarding the allegations against the former Governor, the Albany County DA’s Office is the only one who has a burden to prove the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt,” Soares said. “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.“

A misdemeanor criminal complaint was brought against Cuomo in October over accusations he forcibly groped staffer Brittany Commisso in the state’s Executive Mansion.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple had promised “a solid case” and said he had an “overwhelming amount of evidence” against Cuomo, but his case faced problems from the start. News of the complaint leaked before any prosecutors knew it was being brought, and Soares quickly said it had serious issues, such as a failure to include evidence of an “exculpatory nature.”

On Tuesday, Soares said his office had notified the courts “that we are declining to prosecute this matter and requesting the charges filed by the Albany County Sheriff be dismissed.” He noted, however, that his decision does not close the door on “any possible civil liability.”

The groping allegation was the only criminal charge that had been brought against Cuomo in connection with the litany of sexual misconduct and other accusations he faced last year.

Several other prosecutors in other counties have recently said they won’t continue to pursue investigations into other sexual misconduct allegations, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office made clear on Monday it wouldn’t bring charges over Cuomo’s handling of data related to Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes.

Cuomo resigned in August after a report by the state attorney general corroborated numerous sexual harassment allegations lodged by current and former employees.

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