Updated: March 11, 2021 05:16 PM
Created: March 11, 2021 02:11 PM
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A lawyer for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that she reported a groping allegation made against him to police after the woman involved declined to press charges herself.
The Times Union of Albany reported Wednesday that an unidentified aide had claimed Cuomo reached under her shirt and fondled her after summoning her to his official residence late last year. Cuomo said he never touched anyone inappropriately.
Beth Garvey, the governor’s acting counsel, said in a statement that as a matter of state policy, the woman who made the allegations was told she should contact her local police department.
“In this case, the person is represented by counsel and when counsel confirmed the client did not want to make a report, the state notified the police department and gave them the attorney’s information,” Garvey said.
She said the state was obligated to do so under state law.
An Albany Police Department spokesperson, Steve Smith, didn’t immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment, but he told The New York Times that police had reached out to a representative for the woman and offered its services.
The possible involvement of police comes as Cuomo’s grip on power appeared increasingly tenuous.
Earlier Thursday, a group of 59 Democratic state legislators demanded Cuomo’s resignation in the wake of the allegation at the Executive Mansion.
The group released the following statement:
“As legislators and as New Yorkers we all must decide what is best for the future of New York State. The budget, the fight against COVID-19, and restarting the economy all demand clear and trustworthy leadership. In light of the Governor’s admission of inappropriate behavior and the findings of altered data on nursing home COVID-19 deaths he has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need.
“Attorney General James has made clear that her independent investigation will continue and has already made an excellent choice in those picked to lead the investigation. We are fully confident in the Attorney General’s ability to investigate this matter thoroughly, and know that no change in state executive leadership will impede or affect her office’s important work. We are deeply grateful for her clear-eyed and unwavering leadership.
“In the meantime, the Governor needs to put the people of New York first. We have a Lieutenant Governor who can step in and lead for the remainder of the term, and this is what is best for New Yorkers in this critical time. It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign.”
The top Democrat in the state Assembly, Speaker Carl Heastie, said he would caucus with members Thursday to discuss “potential paths forward” in light of mounting allegations.
In New York, the Assembly is the legislative house that could move to impeach Cuomo, who has faced multiple allegations that he made the workplace an uncomfortable place for young women with sexually suggestive remarks and behavior, including unwanted touching and a kiss.
Nineteen senators and 40 Assembly members said in a letter Thursday that it was time for Cuomo to go.
“In light of the Governor’s admission of inappropriate behavior and the findings of altered data on nursing home COVID-19 deaths he has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need,” the letter said. “It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign.”
Cuomo has repeatedly said he won’t resign and urged the public to await the outcome of an investigation of his conduct by state Attorney General Letitia James. Cuomo’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
While Cuomo has denied inappropriately touching anyone, he has apologized for comments he made to women staffers that were seen by them as flirtations.
In the newest allegation against Cuomo, the Times Union of Albany reported that the governor had summoned the aide to his Albany mansion, saying he needed help with his cellphone. After she arrived, Cuomo closed the door, reached under her shirt and fondled her, the newspaper reported.
The newspaper’s reporting was based on an unidentified source with knowledge of the woman’s accusation, who said she first told the story to someone on Cuomo’s staff in recent days. The newspaper hadn’t spoken to the woman and didn’t identify her.
“I have never done anything like this,” Cuomo said through a spokesperson Wednesday evening.
“The details of this report are gut-wrenching,” Cuomo said, adding that he would not speak to the specifics of this or any other allegation, given an ongoing investigation overseen by the state attorney general.
Several other women who worked for the governor in Albany or during his time in former President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet, and one who met him briefly at a wedding, have also accused Cuomo of inappropriate conduct.
The state Assembly has 150 members. It could convene an impeachment trial against Cuomo with a simple majority vote. Until the new allegations surfaced, most of its members appeared to be leaning against trying to convene an impeachment or demanding Cuomo’s resignation until the attorney general’s investigation was complete.
The state Senate, which would join with members of the state’s top appeals court to hold an impeachment trial, has 63 members.
New York State Democratic Party Chairman Jay S. Jacobs has released the following statement:
"Faced with another serious and disturbing allegation, revealed last evening in an article in the Times Union, it has become even more imperative that all of these matters be thoroughly investigated. I have full confidence in Attorney General Letitia James’ ability to conduct that investigation expeditiously with the full attention and resources necessary to produce a determinative report as soon as possible.
"With the preponderance of these allegations I agree with Speaker Heastie that now is the time for the Legislature to commence its own review of these matters as a part of its Constitutional responsibilities.
"I recognize that within our Party there have been differing views as to how we should proceed and as to what course of action the Governor should take. I respect the personal decision made by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and a large number of Democratic lawmakers calling for the Governor’s resignation. Accordingly, out of respect for our broader Party leadership, I will be convening a meeting of county chairs so that I can hear their perspective on the current controversy directly."
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