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Cuomo accuser speaks publicly for the first time

Aug 9, 2021
Originally published on August 9, 2021 5:22 am

One of the 11 women who the New York State Attorney General found was sexually harassed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has come forward publicly to detail her accusation that the governor groped her and made other unwanted advances.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple confirmed Saturday that he is investigating a criminal complaint that Cuomo staffer Brittany Commisso filed against the governor.

Meanwhile, in a fast moving weekend of news about the embattled governor, Cuomo’s attorney held a briefing and appeared on CNN to defend her client.  

Brittany Commisso, known as Executive Assistant #1 in the AG’s report, said the governor sexually assaulted her when she was called to the Executive Mansion last fall to help him fix his phone.

She appeared in an interview conducted jointly with CBS This Morning and the Albany Times Union, where she spoke to CBS’s Jericka Duncan about the criminal complaint she filed Thursday with the Albany County Sheriff. 

“Why did you file that criminal complaint with the Sheriff’s office?" Duncan asked.

“It was the right thing to do,” Commisso answered. “The governor needs to be held accountable.”

Duncan then asked whether being held accountable means seeing the governor charged with a crime.

“What he did to me was a crime,” Commisso answered. “He broke the law.”

The full interview airs on CBS at 7 a.m. Monday.

Sheriff Apple said he is seeking documents from Attorney General Letitia James and is working with the Albany County DA to conduct interviews and complete a “comprehensive investigation.” 

“I have a young lady who came in who is alleging she was victimized,” Apple said. “And we are going to do everything in our powers to help her.”

Sheriff Apple would not rule out the governor being arrested on misdemeanor charges.

The governor’s private attorney, Rita Glavin, appeared on CNN to dispute Commisso’s claims, as well as those of the other women. Glavin says the AG and her investigators treated the governor unfairly.

“This was one sided,” Glavin said. “He was ambushed.”

Glavin said Commisso’s account in the report -- that after the assault she immediately left the mansion, upset -- is “false” because records show she stayed for several hours, and even enjoyed a snack of cheese and crackers. Glavin said Cuomo was “stunned” when the allegation was first reported in the Times Union in March.

“He is 63 years old, he has spent 40 years in public life,” Glavin said. “And for him to all of a sudden be accused of a sexual assault of an executive assistant that he doesn’t really know, doesn’t pass muster.”

Glavin also said that Lindsay Boylan, another one of the women who the report found was sexually harassed, is lying.   

In an interview on CNN Saturday, Glavin conceded that the governor might have run his finger down the spine of a state trooper that he personally recruited for his security detail,  but Glavin said the gesture may have been misconstrued.

Glavin also questioned the motives of some of the accusers, and raised questions about whether AG James and her investigators, including former acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, were biased against the governor. She even took issue with Sheriff Apple looking into the criminal complaint, saying that might be politically motivated because the sheriff is an elected official.

Apple said he did not listen to what the governor’s lawyer said, but when asked by a reporter whether he expected potential retaliation from Cuomo, the Sheriff said he was not afraid.

“I’m the county sheriff, I’m not going to be intimidated, I’m not going to be coerced,” he said. “That would not play out well for anybody.”

A spokesman for Attorney General James responded to Glavin’s charges, saying that "to attack this investigation and attempt to undermine and politicize this process takes away from the bravery displayed by these women."

On Sunday evening, a top aide to Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, announced her resignation, saying that serving the people of New York for the past 10 years had been "the greatest honor of my life."

But she also said, "Personally, the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying."

Finally, the Assembly Impeachment Inquiry Committee meets later Monday morning. It is expected to discuss a timetable to potentially introduce articles of impeachment against the governor. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he wants to expedite the process.  

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