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Another New York prosecutor decides not to charge Andrew Cuomo following sexual harassment probe

An upstate New York prosecutor announced Monday that he is ending an investigation into an allegation of unwanted physical contact by former Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes is the fourth county prosecutor to investigate, but decline to charge, Cuomo based on allegations outlined in a searing August 2021 report by investigators working for New York Attorney General Letitia James.

"The Oswego County District Attorney's Office has concluded that there is not a sufficient legal basis to bring criminal charges against former-Governor Andrew Cuomo based upon the allegations of unwanted physical contact made by Virginia Limmiatis," Oakes said in a statement Monday.

Oakes' office was investigating claims by Limmiatis, who told James' office that in May 2017 she was standing in a rope line to greet the then-governor when he ran two fingers across her chest, pressing down on the letters printed on her shirt. Limmiatis said, according to the report, that he then put his face close to hers and said, 'I'm going to say I see a spider on your shoulder,' before brushing his hand in the area between her shoulder and breasts.'"

Oakes said in his statement that the decision should "in no way….be interpreted as casting doubt upon the character or credibility of Ms. Limmiatis, or how harmful the acts she experienced were."

He called for legislators in the state to reform sexual harassment laws "to reflect the lived experiences of victims."

In a statement released by Limmiatis' attorney, Limmiatis reiterated her allegations against Cuomo and said she was grateful to Oakes for investigating.

"I am glad he was forced to step down and held to account, and am proud to stand with all the women who had the courage to report his misconduct. So many women suffer in silence and are not supported when they come forward," Limmiatis said.

Cuomo has repeatedly denied all allegations of harassment. A spokesperson for Cuomo criticized James' investigation Monday, calling it "a political hit job." Cuomo's attorney, Rita Glavin, said of the Oswego prosecutor's decision, "Truth and the rule of law prevailed, not politics or mob mentality."

Cuomo's team also on Monday sent media photos which they claim prove he did not touch Limmiatis inappropriately.

Cuomo resigned in August after the report by New York Attorney General Letitia James detailed accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by 11 women, including former staffers and a state trooper. The report prompted investigations by several local district attorneys, none of whom have since filed charges. 

On December 23, acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith announced that an accusation by a state trooper who was assigned to Cuomo's security detail was "credible, deeply troubling, but not criminal under New York law." The trooper said Cuomo touched her inappropriately during a 2019 event at the Belmont Park racetrack, allegedly running the palm of his hand across her stomach, according to the attorney general's report.

On December 28, Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah similarly found allegations by the trooper and another woman "credible," but declined to bring charges. The trooper accused Cuomo of an inappropriate kiss on the cheek at his Mt. Kisco home. The other woman accused him of an inappropriate kiss on the cheek at a high school in nearby White Plains.

On January 4, Albany County District Attorney David Soares also described allegations by an accuser as "credible" but said he won't bring charges. Soares' office was investigating after the county sheriff brought a criminal complaint in October 2021. The victim was not identified by name in the complaint, but the case appeared to stem from allegations made by former aide Brittany Commisso, who said last summer that the governor groped her in December 2019 and November 2020.

A separate investigation by the Manhattan district attorney's Elder Abuse Unit into Cuomo's handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes also ended in January without charges.

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