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Nassau DA won't file criminal charges against Cuomo after state trooper sex harassment allegation

Former New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in

Former New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in July. Credit: NDZ/STAR MAX/IPx

Allegations that former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo inappropriately touched a female state trooper at a 2019 event at Belmont Park are "credible, deeply troubling, but not criminal," Nassau County's acting district attorney said Thursday while announcing a decision not to prosecute him.

The trooper, who was part of Cuomo's security detail, previously told investigators appointed by state Attorney General Letitia James that the then-governor touched her in a way that made her feel "completely violated" as she held a door open for him as he left a New York Islanders event at the Elmont venue on Sept. 23, 2019.

What to know

  • Ex-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo won't be prosecuted in Nassau for allegedly touching a female state trooper inappropriately
  • The alleged incident happened at Belmont Park in Elmont in September 2019
  • Nassau Acting District Attorney Joyce Smith said an investigation showed the trooper's allegations were "credible, deeply troubling, but not criminal"
  • Cuomo spokesman says Nassau decision shows James' report was "abuse of government power for political purposes"

Nassau County acting District Attorney Joyce Smith said in a statement Thursday that her office had concluded what she called an "exhaustive" investigation into allegations of misconduct by Cuomo at Belmont, as detailed in James' report, and wouldn't file criminal charges.

"Our exhaustive investigation found the allegations credible, deeply troubling, but not criminal under New York law. It is important to note that our investigation was limited to alleged conduct at Belmont Racetrack, and prosecutors in other jurisdictions continue to review other allegations of misconduct by Mr. Cuomo," Smith said.

The acting district attorney added: "We thank the brave individuals who came forward and cooperated with our office during this investigation, and gratefully acknowledge our colleagues, Attorney General James and the New York State Assembly, for their diligence and collaboration."

Cuomo, 64, resigned in August, avoiding a likely impeachment trial after James’ office released a report earlier that month concluding that the then-governor sexually harassed multiple women — including the trooper — and violated state and federal laws.

The former governor has continually denied any wrongdoing, saying he has never touched anyone inappropriately.

On Thursday, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said the acting district attorney’s decision shows the state attorney general’s report was "gross prosecutorial misconduct and abuse of government power for political purposes."

He said James "never presented the evidence to support such claims," that her report "omitted important exculpatory facts," that she "admitted her personal interference in preparing the report" and has "refused to answer any questions from the press."

Azzopardi added: "It was obviously a political springboard to remove Governor Cuomo so she could run for office."

James has since dropped her bid for governor. Her office didn't respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Cuomo's attorney, Rita Glavin, also didn't respond to a request for comment Thursday. Manhattan attorney Valdi Licul, who represents the female trooper, declined to comment.

In November, the state Assembly Judiciary Committee released the findings of an additional probe, which included that Cuomo engaged in sexual harassment on multiple occasions and used state resources and staff to help him write a pandemic memoir that landed him a $5 million book deal.

That investigation also found Cuomo’s staff "substantially revised" a state report to exclude the pandemic-related deaths of nursing home residents at hospitals to protect Cuomo’s reputation.

Glavin previously said that the report "simply parrots the Attorney General’s flawed report."

On the day at Belmont, Cuomo ran the palm of his left hand across the trooper’s stomach in the opposite direction from the way he was walking, according to what the trooper told investigators while under subpoena. She said the center of Cuomo’s hand was on her belly button before he pushed it back to her right hip where she kept her gun.

"I felt like completely violated because to me that’s between my chest and my privates, which, you know, if he was a little bit north or a little bit south, it's not good," the trooper said.

She was identified in James’ report only as "Trooper No. 1" to protect her privacy. She also told investigators Cuomo started flirting with her almost immediately after they met. He then helped pave the way for her transfer to his security detail, a coveted job for many troopers, although Trooper No. 1 hadn’t yet had the years of experience that were common for that role.

James' report also said that a male senior investigator with the State Police who was walking behind Cuomo saw Cuomo touch Trooper No. 1's stomach at Belmont and a number of other members of the same unit recalled hearing about the incident from Trooper No. 1.

The senior investigator "fully corroborated" the trooper's account and said he had checked with the female law enforcement officer that day to see if she wanted to do anything about the incident, but she said she didn't want to report it, according to James' findings.

Trooper No. 1 explained that she had heard other unit officers had been punished over insignificant instances in which they had upset Cuomo and she was concerned that if she raised any issues about Cuomo's conduct, she or the senior investigator would be punished for speaking out against the then-governor, James' report said.

The female State Police official also told investigators there were other incidents where Cuomo acted inappropriately towards her. She said that in 2018 Cuomo suggested she go "upstairs" with him for a private tour of the Executive Mansion in Albany, where Cuomo resided.

"It came off as creepy," the trooper said.

In a separate alleged incident, she said she was in an elevator with Cuomo in Manhattan in 2018 while headed to his 34th-floor office when he touched her.

"He runs his finger down the center of … my back on my spine, basically from the top of my neck, to basically midway down with his pointer finger," she recalled. "He then said: ‘Hey, you.’ So I turned around and said, 'Oh, hey, how are you, sir?' And that was basically it. I kind of was like freaked out."

The trooper reported that Cuomo also asked her if he could kiss her on at least two occasions when they both were working.

"I remember just freezing," the trooper said. She added that she tried to figure out how to "politely" decline because she felt he was "going to take it out on the detail" and she would be "on the bad list."

The second time he asked for a kiss, she declined because she said she was sick.

"He looked at me almost in disgust that I had denied him," the trooper told investigators.

When speaking to James' investigators, Cuomo denied that he ever purposely touched the trooper on her stomach or ran any of his fingers down her back. He did recall hugging her and said he may have kissed her on the cheek at a Christmas party, according to James' report.

In addition to the Nassau County District Attorney's Office, county prosecutors including the Westchester, Manhattan and Albany district attorneys also have asked for records related to James’ report into sexual harassment accusations against Cuomo.

On Oct. 28, the Albany County Sheriff’s Department filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo that accused him of a misdemeanor forcible touching charge. Cuomo was accused groping a former aide in the governor’s mansion last year, a state court official confirmed Thursday.

The criminal complaint accuses Cuomo of committing the crime on the afternoon of Dec. 7 on the second floor of the governor’s mansion in Albany. It alleges Cuomo touched the woman "for the purpose of degrading or abusing" her for the purpose of "gratifying his sexual desires" by forcibly placing "his hand under the blouse or shirt of the victim" to touch her breast.

Court records show Cuomo is scheduled to be arraigned on the charge in an Albany court on Jan. 7 after the proceeding was postponed in November. The Albany County district attorney had asked before the November court date for a delay in the proceeding, calling the criminal complaint potentially defective.

A lawyer for the ex-governor previously said Cuomo "never assaulted anyone" and claimed the sheriff’s "motives" were "patently improper" in filing the complaint.

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