The Albany Criminal Court issued a criminal summons for former governor Andrew Cuomo in connection with charges of “forcible touching,” a Class A misdemeanor, New York Focus first reported on Thursday. A court clerk said that the local sheriff’s department filed the charges.
On Thursday night, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple confirmed that his office had filed a criminal summons with the court.
“On Thursday, October 28, 2021, Sheriff’s Investigators presented Albany City Court with evidence for their review to determine the most appropriate legal pathway moving forward on the investigation,” Apple said in a statement, adding that the criminal summons requires Cuomo to appear in court on November 17, 2021 at 2:30 p.m.
The specific charges are detailed in a misdemeanor complaint signed by Amy Kowalski, an investigator with the sheriff’s department.
After New York Focus broke the news of the criminal summons, Albany Times Union reported that the summons was issued prematurely, after the sheriff’s office filed a summary of its investigation with the court but before the victim or her attorney had given consent. The New York Post later reported that Cuomo is expected to be arrested and formally charged next week.
Matt Toporowski, a criminal defense attorney in Albany, told New York Focus that it is likely that Cuomo will soon be arraigned in Albany Criminal Court and that the court will issue an order of protection.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened tomorrow or Monday,” Toporowski said. “It could happen any day now at this point.”
In order to convict Cuomo, Toporowski said, the district attorney would have to prove both that the governor inappropriately touched the alleged victim and that he did so “for the purpose of abusing her or degrading her for his own sexual gratification.”
“He’ll be charged, and he’s presumed innocent,” Toporowski said. “The district attorney is going to have to prove this charge.”
Albany District Attorney David Soares said in a statement that he was “surprised to learn today that a criminal complaint was filed in Albany City Court by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office against Andrew Cuomo.”
Cuomo’s attorney, Rita Glavin, suggested that the charges were politically motivated.
“Governor Cuomo has never assaulted anyone, and Sheriff Apple’s motives here are patently improper,” she said in a statement. “Sheriff Apple didn’t even tell the District Attorney what he was doing. But Apple’s behavior is no surprise given (1) his August 7 press conference where he essentially pronounced the Governor guilty before doing an investigation, and (2) his Office’s leaking of grand jury information. This is not professional law enforcement; this is politics.”
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesperson for the former governor, also questioned the sheriff’s motive for filing the charges.
“‘Accidentally’ filing a criminal charge without notification and consent of the prosecuting body doesn’t pass the laugh test and this process reeks of Albany politics and perhaps worse,” he said in a statement, promising that “the truth about what happened with this cowboy sheriff will come out.”
Cuomo resigned from office in August after Attorney General Letitia James released a report concluding that he had sexually harassed 11 women, including Brittany Commiso, an executive assistant.
Commiso, who was the sixth woman to accuse Cuomo of sexually inappropriate conduct, filed a criminal complaint accusing Cuomo of groping her on August 5, just days before he announced his resignation on August 10. The complaint was made public on August 6, and Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said at the time that the ensuing investigation could lead to Cuomo’s arrest and prosecution.
In a statement Thursday, James said the charges for forcible touching “further validate the findings in our report.”
Additional reporting by Rebecca Klein, Sam Mellins, and Peter Sterne