Sheriff hails courage of woman accusing Andrew Cuomo of sexual misconduct – The Guardian

Andrew Cuomo

Albany officer Craig Apple describes woman as a victim and says investigation of governor could lead to arrest

The sheriff of Albany county, New York, on Saturday repeatedly referred to a woman who filed a criminal complaint against Governor Andrew Cuomo, following her allegation of sexual misconduct, as a victim and touted her bravery in coming forward.

“I think we’ve all read the attorney general’s report, I think we all know what’s in it,” Sheriff Craig Apple told reporters during a press conference in the state capital on Saturday, adding: “At this point, I’m very comfortable and safe saying she’s in fact a victim.”

He was referring to the New York attorney general, Letitia James, issuing an explosive 165-page report earlier in the week that concluded that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women, including the one who then made a criminal complaint to the Albany sheriff, and had created a “climate of fear” in a “toxic” workplace.

Apple would not comment on the intricacies of his office’s investigation during the press conference, saying: “I cannot get into the nature of the specific allegations at this time; obviously, we’re at the very infant stage of this investigation.”

“We have a lot of fact-finding to do, we have interviews to conduct,” Apple said.

If the investigation turned up criminal behavior, “obviously, yes, it could lead to an arrest”, Apple said. Asked what kind of charges Cuomo might face if charges were to come down, Apple said he was “really on the peripherals of this, but it would probably be a misdemeanor” or perhaps several.

He said of the women coming forward and alleging sexual misconduct by Cuomo: “I commend all of them for coming forward. This is a very tough time and for something that, you know, is going to put a lot of stress and pressure and pressure on a victim. I give them all the credit in the world.”

Apple also said that his office would investigate the complaint just like any other allegation, despite its publicized nature. “It’s obviously a high-profile investigation. I mean, it’s the governor,” Apple said. “We treat victims the same, we investigate the same – this one just has more eyes on it.”

Apple was also asked how he could reassure people who are questioning whether this was politically motivated, which has been alleged.

“I had a female victim come forward, which had to be the hardest thing she’s ever done in her life, and make an allegation of criminal conduct against the governor. I think as far as the sheriff’s office – I am elected as well – I think that we have a proven record in this area, this region, of helping people, taking care of people,” Apple said.

On Tuesday, James said Cuomo had violated federal and state civil laws against workplace harassment and retaliation. Two days later, the first criminal complaint in the scandal was filed.

A former aide to the governor and alleged victim of his conduct, referred to in James’s report only as “Executive assistant #1” to protect her identity, spoke with the sheriff’s office on Thursday to accuse Cuomo of groping her breast in Albany last November.

Four criminal prosecutors – the district attorneys in the New York city borough of Manhattan and Albany, Westchester and Nassau counties – had already announced that they would review the evidence James gathered.

Cuomo has denied inappropriately touching the women or inappropriate sexual conduct and has so far resisted calls to resign. After the attorney general’s investigation was released on Tuesday, Joe Biden was among the powerful Democratic figures calling for Cuomo’s resignation.

Meanwhile, on Friday afternoon the leaders of Cuomo’s legal team conducted an online briefing in which they sought to undermine the evidence in the report and claimed it was politically motivated. “There’s been no open-minded fact-finding here in this investigation. This investigation was conducted in a manner to support a predetermined narrative,” said the lawyer Rita Glavin.

The state assembly is in the process of preparing to almost certainly formally impeach the third-term Democratic governor and remove him from office if he doesn’t quit first.

The executive assistant told investigators that Cuomo called her to the governor’s mansion in November last year, led her into a room, closed the door, slid his hand under her blouse and cupped her breast over her bra, according to the investigators’ report.

The attorney general’s report detailed how the former aide to Cuomo had said to James’s team of investigators: “I have to tell you it was – at the moment I was in such shock that I could just tell you that I just remember looking down seeing his hand, seeing the top of my bra and I remember it was like, a little – even the cup, the kind of bra that I had, to the point I could tell you doesn’t really fit me properly, it was a little loose, I just remember seeing exactly that.”

  • In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support for rape and sexual abuse on 0808 802 9999. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html

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