By Carl Roman, Associate News Editor
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be arrested and appear in court next month in connection to a charge of forcible touching, according to the Albany County sheriff.
Cuomo, who was hit with the Class A misdemeanor charge Thursday, will be issued a summons “probably next week” and be expected to appear in Albany City Court on Nov. 17 for allegedly committing “Unwanted Touching” against an unnamed victim, “at which point he will be processed and assumingly released,” Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple announced Friday.
“The case is a very solid case, we have great information that was obtained, we’ve met our burden as far as probable cause, and we have filed,” he said during a Friday press conference at the Clarksville Public Safety Building in Albany, New York.
Asked whether “arrest” was “an accurate word to use in this situation” and whether “the governor is going to be placed under arrest at some point,” Apple responded, “Yes, yes.”
When pressed on what would happen if Cuomo refused to appear in court, Apple said, “It’s my hope he shows up, and I don’t think he wouldn’t” but noted failure to appear could lead to a criminal arrest warrant.
Rich Azzopardi, a representative for the former governor, slammed Apple’s “unprecedented” actions as an “abuse of power and misconduct demonstrated by this Cowboy Sheriff.”
“Sheriff Apple, who has been a political opponent of the Governor’s since the passage of the SAFE Act, is seeking headlines and not justice and his misconduct is undeniable,” Azzopardi wrote in a statement released less than two hours before Apple’s press conference.
After Apple “publicly credited Tish Jame’s [sic] report as evidence to pronounce the Governor guilty of an allegation he had not yet investigated,” Attorney General Letitia James, whose Aug. 3 report was followed by Cuomo’s resignation, “returned the favor, using Sherif [sic] Apple’s conveniently timed move to validate her sham report,” Azzopardi said.
“Here politics is validating politics,” he continued. “What’s missing is facts and the law.”
Apple dismissed “political hit job” accusations as “ridiculous.”
“This is how they play … I’ve been called much worse,” he said in reference to Azzopardi’s Friday attack, later calling his office “an apolitical organization.”
James, who announced roughly one hour before Apple’s press conference that she’s running for governor in 2022, said Thursday’s charges validated her August report.
“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,” the attorney general’s office said Thursday. “The criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report.”
On Thursday, a criminal complaint against Cuomo, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Examiner, alleged that on Dec. 7, 2020, while at the New York governor’s mansion, Cuomo “did intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim [REDACTED] and onto her intimate body part, specifically, the victim’s left breast.” The complaint says that “a person is guilty of Forcible Touching when such person intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person, or for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire.”
The filing was met with some confusion as the criminal summons was issued without the consent of the alleged victim, according to the Albany Times-Union , which reported that no final decision had been made by the sheriff’s department or the district attorney’s office on whether to file charges, according to unnamed sources.
Surrogates for Cuomo, who has repeatedly denied all allegations of inappropriate touching, pointed to this confusion as evidence the process was flawed.
“‘Accidentally’ filing a criminal charge without notification and consent of the prosecuting body doesn’t pass the laugh test and this reeks of Albany politics and perhaps worse,” Azzopardi said . “The fact that the AG — as predicted — is about to announce a run for governor is lost on no one. The truth about what happened with this cowboy sheriff will come out.”
Thursday’s announcement of the charges came “much” sooner than originally planned, Apple acknowledged.
“We would have liked to have presented everything, sat down with the DA, and explained exactly what we had,” he said. “I would have also, out of courtesy, liked to have reached out to Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin and explained what we had and what the next process would be, but again, things change and it doesn’t always work out as planned.”
Apple declined to call Thursday’s announcement a “miscommunication” but conceded, “We did not anticipate a quick return like that.”
“I kind of feel bad about the way that it all happened, but again, the way it went down has nothing to do with the case … Whatever and however it went down, again, I would have liked to have seen it go differently, but it didn’t, so here we are,” he continued.
The former governor was accused of sexual misconduct during his decade in office, including an allegation that he reached under one alleged victim’s shirt and grabbed her breast while at the executive mansion in Albany, New York.
Even after Cuomo stepped down, Apple vowed to continue his inquiry into him.
“It was never about his office, although I appreciate him putting the people of New York first and stepping aside,” Apple said in August.
Cuomo resigned from office on Aug. 24, following the release of James’s Aug. 3 report concluding he sexually harassed at least 11 women, elevating then Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to the governorship. Hazel Crampton-Hays, a representative for Hochul, declined to comment on Thursday’s charges against Cuomo.
The August report by James concluded that Cuomo “sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.” The investigation also “revealed that the Governor’s sexually harassing behavior was not limited to members of his own staff, but extended to other State employees, including a State Trooper on his protective detail” and members of the public.
The former governor and the attorney general, once political allies, have been verbally sparring ever since James announced the findings of her report. Last month, James slammed Cuomo for not taking “responsibility for his own conduct” after Cuomo blasted his ouster as “politics.”
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