ALBANY, N.Y. — A criminal investigation into accusations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo groped a young woman working in his office is still in its early stages, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said Saturday.
Apple declined to disclose details about the probe into the Democratic governor, but said the alleged conduct is “sexual in nature” and could potentially lead to misdemeanor charges and an arrest.
The criminal investigation comes days after Attorney General Letitia James’ office released a damning report corroborating the accounts of 11 women, predominantly young staffers, who say Cuomo repeatedly subjected them to unwanted touching, kisses and inappropriate comments.
The unnamed woman who filed a complaint Thursday with the Sheriff’s Office is among those who spoke with the independent investigators working under James’ supervision.
Apple said the victim’s attorney contacted his office Thursday evening and the woman spoke with investigators for about an hour on Friday, kicking off a formal criminal probe.
“We are in the infant stages of the investigation,” Apple said. “We have lots of fact-finding to do.”
The Sheriff’s Office is working in conjunction with Albany County District Attorney David Soares’ office and is seeking additional information from the attorney general.
A spokesman for James said the attorney general will “cooperate fully” and “turn over all evidence related to this complainant.”
In the AG’s report, the aide accused Cuomo of reaching under her shirt and fondling her breast while they were alone at the Executive Mansion late last year.
“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 James’ investigators.
The woman also said it wasn’t the first time Cuomo had acted inappropriately toward her. According to the report, she detailed a pattern of predatory behavior on part of governor that included asking her probing questions about her marriage, grabbing her butt while taking a selfie and ogling her while at work.
Rita Glavin, Cuomo’s attorney, sought to counter the accusations on Friday.
“He is 63 years old. He has spent 40 years in public life and for him to all of the sudden be accused of a sexual assault of an executive assistant that he really doesn’t know, doesn’t pass muster,” Glavin said after providing a detailed timeline of the day the alleged groping took place.
James’ report has led to widespread calls for Cuomo’s resignation and placed pressure on the state Assembly, which is conducting an impeachment investigation. Dozens of Cuomo’s fellow Dems have said they would back bringing articles of impeachment against the scandal-scarred governor.
Apple repeatedly praised the women who came forward for their bravery and said his office will take any allegation seriously, regardless of who the accused may be, and said he won’t be intimidated.
“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.
“I think we’ve all read the attorney general’s report, I think we all know what’s in it,” he added.
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