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Former Cuomo aide files criminal complaint in alleged groping incident

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at Yankee Stadium on July 26.   Credit: AP/Richard Drew

ALBANY — A former assistant who says Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo groped her has filed a criminal complaint against him, the Albany County Sheriff's Department said Friday.

The complaint, filed Thursday, is the first known instance in which a woman has made an official report with a law enforcement agency over alleged misconduct by Cuomo.

"What he did to me was a crime," the woman told "CBS This Morning" in part of an interview she did with the network that will air Monday. The network released the preview Friday evening.

Prosecutors in five counties have opened criminal investigations of the governor since a report by the attorney general's office found Cuomo, 63, sexually harassed 11 women and broke multiple state and federal laws in doing so, and tried to retaliate against one of them.

Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing. He has said some of the alleged events outlined in the report never happened or that some of the women misconstrued or misinterpreted some of his remarks, which he said were meant to convey warmth and camaraderie in a high-pressure atmosphere.

Law-enforcement officials confirmed the woman identified in an attorney general's report as "executive assistant #1," filed the complaint with the sheriff's office, an assistant to Sheriff Craig Apple Sr. said. The sheriff told the New York Post, which first reported the complaint, that Cuomo could be arrested if his investigators or the prosecutor's office determines a crime was committed.

The office notified the county district attorney's office of the complaint.

"There is an official report that is now filed with law enforcement," Albany County District Attorney David Soares told Albany-based WAMC-FM.

Attorney General Letitia James’ report describes a series of times Cuomo allegedly acted inappropriately with the aide, culminating with the groping encounter at the mansion in November.

According to the report, Cuomo pulled her in for a hug as she prepared to leave the governor’s office. Told that "you’re going to get us in trouble," Cuomo replied, "I don’t care," and slammed the door shut. He slid his hand up her blouse, and grabbed her breast over her bra, according to the report.

"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," she told investigators.

She pulled away from Cuomo and said, "You’re crazy."

The woman said she had initially planned to take the harassment claims "to the grave."

Four other district attorneys have said they are pursuing investigations involving the governor, but none have said they've received an official complaint yet.

The complaint comes as even more fellow Democrats called on Cuomo to resign immediately and the state Assembly accelerated impeachment proceedings.

On Friday, 42 Democratic county chairs across New York called on Cuomo to step down immediately, another sign of the governor’s dwindling political support.

"We, the undersigned Democratic County chairs, call upon Governor Cuomo to immediately resign," they wrote in the statement. "We have individually called for his resignation, and now we do so with one voice. We thank him for his years of service to the great state of New York, which we all know he holds dear, but demand that he immediately step down. It's time to move on."

Combined with other chairs who previously called for the governor’s resignation, 58 out of the 62 Democratic county-level leaders have called for Cuomo to step down. Others who previously called for Cuomo to resign who weren’t on the letter include Jacobs, who also serves as Nassau chairman; Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), Queens chairman; and Suffolk County chairman Richard Schaffer.

Also Friday, a new poll showing a growing number of New Yorkers think Cuomo should resign.

The Quinnipiac University poll said 70% of New Yorkers surveyed believe the Democrat should step down. Among just Democrats, the numbers aren’t good for the governor either: 57% say resign compared with 36% who say don’t.

The Quinnipiac poll was taken Wednesday and Thursday and showed a higher percentage of New Yorkers calling for resignation than in a Marist College poll — 59% — taken Tuesday right after the sexual harassment report went public.

Further, Quinnipiac said Cuomo has an all-time low job approval rating: 63% of those surveyed gave him a negative rating compared with 28% positive.

Following the findings of the attorney general's sexual harassment investigation, the state Assembly has said it will accelerate an impeachment inquiry. It has given Cuomo until next Friday to supply any evidence he wishes the impeachment committee to consider.

With wire reports

State & Region