By STEVE BITTENBENDER
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — For the second time in less than a week, a New York prosecutor has declined to press charges against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo for alleged incidents of sexual harassment, including one that was not mentioned in the independent report that led to Mr. Cuomo’s resignation earlier this year.
On Tuesday afternoon, Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah issued a statement saying her office looked into allegations by two women who claimed Mr. Cuomo kissed them inappropriately. While the investigation found “credible” evidence indicating the incidents occurred, Ms. Rocah said “due to the statutory requirements of the criminal laws of New York,” charges could not be filed in the suburban county north of New York City.
“This conclusion is unrelated to any possible civil liability which is beyond the scope of a district attorney’s jurisdiction, which focuses solely on criminal laws,” Ms. Rocah added.
Last Thursday, Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith said her office looked into a claim by a state trooper who served on Mr. Cuomo’s security detail that the governor touched her inappropriately after an event at Belmont Park.
While Ms. Smith said she found the incident “deeply troubling,” it did not meet the standard for criminal prosecution.
Ms. Rocah’s office investigated a second claim from the trooper. While she was on duty at Mr. Cuomo’s residence in Mount Kisco, the trooper said she asked him if he needed anything. He responded by asking to kiss her.
Concerned about how Mr. Cuomo would react, she said, “Sure,” and the then-governor kissed her on the cheek, saying afterward that he probably wasn’t supposed to do that.
The trooper’s allegations were mentioned in a five-month independent investigation earlier this year that was overseen by Attorney General Letitia James. In August, Ms. James released a report from the outside lawyers who ran the investigation, and the 165-page report found claims from 11 women, including some who worked for Mr. Cuomo, to be credible.
Ms. Rocah’s statement mentioned a second woman who told investigators that Mr. Cuomo grabbed her, pulled her toward him and kissed her on the cheek without her consent during an event at White Plains High School.
“We continue to recognize the bravery of the women and witnesses who have cooperated with law enforcement, and we remain committed to supporting them and all survivors,” Ms. Rocah said. “As in all cases of alleged misconduct, my office will investigate such claims irrespective of the position or status of the accusers or the accused.”
Mr. Cuomo does face a charge of forcible touching in Albany County stemming from an allegation made by a former aide in the independent report. Brittany Commisso, the former assistant, claimed Mr. Cuomo put his hand under her blouse while the two were in the Executive Mansion.
Forcible touching is a class A misdemeanor, and, if found guilty, the former governor could go to jail for up to 364 days.