By STEVE BITTENBENDER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) — A Long Island prosecutor called a claim former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo inappropriately touched a state police trooper “deeply troubling.”
However, she said that did not warrant pressing charges against the disgraced governor.
In a statement on Thursday, Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith said her office looked at only the allegation pertaining to an incident at Belmont Park when the trooper served on Mr. Cuomo’s security detail.
According to the independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Mr. Cuomo, the alleged incident occurred Sept. 23, 2019, during an event at the racetrack. The female trooper, who was not identified in the report, claimed Mr. Cuomo ran his left palm across her stomach as she held the door for him when he was leaving the event.
The trooper told the lawyers leading the investigation that she “felt completely violated” but did not believe she could do anything about the governor’s behavior because she had been recently assigned and had heard others had been punished if they did anything to provoke Mr. Cuomo.
Another member of the security detail was walking behind the then-governor and corroborated the trooper’s account.
The trooper was one of 11 women who spoke to the investigators. New York Attorney General Letitia James released the investigation’s findings in August, and that 165-page report eventually led to Mr. Cuomo’s resignation later that month.
Other accusations made by the trooper against Mr. Cuomo included another touching incident when she said he ran his finger down her spine. Mr. Cuomo also reportedly told her she was “too old” for him when he initiated a conversation about dating relationships.
Ms. James’ report said the women’s allegations were credible. In Thursday’s statement, Ms. Smith concurred with the trooper’s account of the Belmont Park incident. However, that was not enough.
“Our exhaustive investigation found the allegations credible, deeply troubling, but not criminal under New York law,” Ms. Smith said.
Mr. Cuomo wasted little time in responding to the announcement.
A spokesman for the former governor issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying Ms. Smith’s decision was proof that the independent investigation Ms. James oversaw was a sham that triggered “a media and political stampede” at Mr. Cuomo.
“James never presented evidence to support such claims, her report omitted important exculpatory facts, she admitted her personal interference in preparing the report and has still refused to answer any questions from the press,” Rich Azzopardi said in a statement posted on Twitter. “It was obviously a political springboard to remove Gov. Cuomo so she could run for office. However, it was so poorly done, and obviously, it backfired, and James’ run for governor lasted only five weeks.”