ALBANY: A prosecutor investigating accusations that former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo groped a woman asked a judge for more time to evaluate the evidence, saying the criminal complaint filed last week by the local sheriff was “potentially defective," according to a letter released Friday.
The request from Albany County District Attorney David Soares throws the high-profile case into further turmoil a week after Cuomo was charged with committing a misdemeanor sex crime. The one-page complaint filed in Albany City Court by a sheriff's office investigator accuses Cuomo of forcible touching by putting his hand under a woman’s shirt on Dec. 7.
Soares, who has said he was caught off guard by the filing, said in a letter to Judge Holly Trexler on Thursday that his office had been investigating the matter for several months.
“We were in the middle of that investigation when the Sheriff unilaterally and inexplicably filed a complaint in this court,” Soares wrote in the letter. “Unfortunately, the filings in this matter are potentially defective in that the police-officer-complainant failed to include a sworn statement by the victim such that the People could proceed with a prosecution on these papers.”
The district attorney said the sheriff’s complaint, as filed, only included part of the woman's testimony, but left other parts out, including sections that could possibly be “exculpatory,” meaning potentially helpful to Cuomo’s defense.
Soares said that his office still had hundreds of hours of videotaped testimony to review and that it anticipates receiving more material with deadlines for a speedy trial approaching.
Cuomo had been summoned to appear for an arraignment Nov. 17. Soares asked for that to be put off for 60 days. Cuomo's attorneys joined in the request.
“The purpose of this adjournment is to give my office time to continue with our independent and unbiased review of the facts of this case,” Soares wrote.
The court granted a delay until Jan. 7, 2022, a spokesperson for Soares said in an email.
A call was made to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple seeking comment. The sheriff acknowledged last week that the court paperwork had been processed more quickly than he intended, before he’d gotten a chance to consult with the district attorney. But he said he was confident in the strength of the case.
There was no immediate comment from Cuomo's spokesperson.
The complaint did not name the woman, but she has identified herself as Brittany Commisso, who worked as one of Cuomo’s executive assistants before he resigned amid sexual harassment allegations in August.
Forcible touching is a misdemeanor in New York, punishable by up to a year in jail, though many cases for first-time offenders are resolved with probation or a shorter jail sentence.
Cuomo has repeatedly denied touching anyone inappropriately.
He resigned from office in August after an investigative report, overseen by New York Attorney General Letitia James, concluded that Cuomo has sexually harassed 11 women.
Both Cuomo and Commisso gave lengthy interviews to James' investigators. Soares has said that much of that material was turned over to his office but that it was voluminous and would take time to evaluate.