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Westchester DA declines to prosecute Cuomo despite "credible" allegations of improper conduct

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigning
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stepping down amid growing sexual harassment scandal 04:23

The district attorney's office in Westchester County has determined that two separate allegations of misconduct against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo were "credible," but declined to bring charges. Two women separately accused Cuomo of inappropriate conduct, specifically kissing their cheeks while he was governor. 

"Our investigation found credible evidence to conclude that the alleged conduct in both instances described above did occur," Westchester District Attorney Miriam Rocah said in a statement on Tuesday. "However, in both instances, my Office has determined that, although the allegations and witnesses were credible, and the conduct concerning, we cannot pursue criminal charges due to the statutory requirements of the criminal laws of New York."

Rocah's office was responsible for reviewing the two allegations of improper conduct that took place in her district, the New York City suburb where a state trooper and another woman said they were subjected to unwanted physical contact by the former governor. 

The trooper alleged that while working as a member of the governor's detail at his home in Mount Kisco, Cuomo asked if he could kiss her, according to Rocah's office. She told investigators that she was concerned about what would happen if she denied his request, and so she said "sure." The governor then allegedly kissed her on the cheek and "said something to the effect of, 'oh, I'm not supposed to do that' or 'unless that's against the rules,'" according to the report released by New York Attorney General Letitia James in August that investigated Cuomo's alleged conduct.

The trooper's allegations about this and other conduct were detailed in James' report. Cuomo denied wrongdoing but announced his resignation a few days after that report came out.

The unnamed trooper alleged Cuomo harassed her on several other instances that occurred outside of Rocah's district. According to the Attorney General's report, she also alleged that he ran "his finger down her back, from the top of her neck down her spine to the middle of her back saying 'hey, you,' while she was standing in front of him in an elevator." 

Last week, the District Attorney for Nassau County in Long Island announced she would not prosecute the trooper's other allegation against Cuomo: that, as detailed in the attorney general's report, he had run "his hand across her stomach, from her belly button to her right hip, while she held a door open for him at an event" in September 2019. 

"Our exhaustive investigation found the allegations credible, deeply troubling, but not criminal under New York law," the Nassau County district attorney said. 

Westchester prosecutors also reviewed allegations by a second woman who said Cuomo grabbed her arm and pulled her toward him and kissed her cheek without asking for her consent at a White Plains High School event.

A spokesman for Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the district attorney's decision. 

The decision by county prosecutors is not connected to any possible civil liability Cuomo may face related to the two accusers. In August, the Justice Department opened a civil investigation into the sexual harrasment claims, according to The Associated Press.

"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," Rocah's statement 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."

Cuomo is also facing a criminal misdemeanor charge for forcible touching in Albany, where he has been accused of groping a former aide. His arraignment in that case has been delayed until January, after the Albany County district attorney raised concerns over potential procedural problems with the complaint filed in October by the county sheriff. 

The charges in that case appear to come 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, saying at the time, "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."

Graham Kates contributed to reporting.

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