Watch CBS News

Cuomo's arraignment delayed until January after district attorney calls sheriff's handling of charge "troubling"

Sheriff says there is "solid case" against Cuomo
Sheriff says there is "solid case" against Andrew Cuomo 00:25

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's arraignment on a misdemeanor charge for forcible touching will be delayed until January after the Albany County district attorney raised concerns over potential procedural problems with the complaint filed last week, according to documents filed in Albany City Court. That complaint was filed by the Albany County Sheriff's Office, a departure from typical criminal procedure in a case of this magnitude. Cuomo has denied the claim made in the complaint. 

In a Thursday letter to the judge overseeing the case, District Attorney David Soares wrote that his office had been in the process of investigating the forcible touching claim when the sheriff's office "unilaterally and inexplicably" filed its own complaint. 

"Unfortunately the filings in this matter are potentially defective," he wrote, arguing that the complaint does not include a sworn statement from the victim, excludes other relevant portions of testimony and misstates relevant law. Soares described the omissions as "troubling."

Soares also wrote that the sheriff's complaint began "a speedy trial clock" that would move too quickly for his office to sufficiently complete its work.

"This means that my Office is required to certify discovery and announce readiness within 90 days or risk having the charges dismissed," Soares wrote. "While we are accustomed to meeting those obligations in the ordinary course, the facts of this case are much more complicated in that this matter was investigated for several months by the Attorney General's Office." 

The attorney general's office had recently sent over "hundreds of hours of videotaped testimony" that must be reviewed, further complicating the process, Soares said. 

Soares asked the judge to delay Cuomo's arraignment for 60 days "in order to reduce the risk of a procedural dismissal of this case." After Cuomo's attorneys backed the move in a separate letter, the judge approved the request, moving Cuomo's arraignment to January 7. 

Neither the sheriff's office nor Cuomo's attorneys immediately responded to CBS News'  request for comment. 

The sheriff's complaint, filed on October 28, accused Cuomo of "intentionally and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly plac[ing] his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim and onto her intimate body part. Specifically, the victim's left breast for the purposes of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires." The alleged encounter occurred on December 7, 2020, in the executive mansion, according to the complaint. 

Criminal complaint filed against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo 02:14

"Governor Cuomo has never assaulted anyone," Cuomo's attorney Rita Glavin said after the complaint was filed. 

The charges appear to stem from allegations made by Cuomo's former aide Brittany Commisso, who said in August that the governor groped her in December 2019 and again in November 2020. 

Cuomo has denied the allegation. "To touch a woman's breasts, who I hardly know, in the mansion with 10 staff around, with my family in the mansion, to say, 'I don't care who sees us.' I would have to lose my mind to do such a thing," he said at the time. 

Commisso's attorney said that he was surprised by last week's charge but that his client would cooperate. 

"She was surprised by the turn of events but she has been and will remain a resolute cooperating victim in pursuit of blind justice," he said. 

The district attorney also released a statement about the charge, writing last Thursday that "Like the rest of the public, we were surprised to learn today that a criminal complaint was filed." 

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said last Friday that he did not expect the charge to be filed when it was, only adding to the confusion surrounding the process.

He said his office sent the complaint to the city court for review, but didn't think it would be filed as quickly as it was. He added that he had planned to consult with Soares, but the criminal summons was made public first, which he called "improper." 

"If we consulted with the D.A. on every single misdemeanor case there would be no justice in this county," Apple said. "Again, would I have liked to? Absolutely. But I couldn't, everything moved too fast. So again, sometimes it doesn't end up how you want it to, but needless to say, as far as the case goes, it has no effect on the case — the case is a solid case. Our victim is cooperative, and we're moving forward."

The charge comes amid a year of political turmoil for Cuomo in which multiple women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment. He resigned a week after a report from the state attorney general backed 11 women's claims. 

Though Cuomo has denied sexually harassing anyone, he has acknowledged that some of his behavior may have made women uncomfortable and apologized for that conduct. 

Nathalie Nieves and Clare Hymes contributed reporting. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.