ALBANY — Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s scheduled arraignment on criminal groping charges is being pushed back to January, the New York Daily News has learned.
Paperwork filed by Albany County District Attorney David Soares’ office was approved Friday, pushing back Cuomo’s planned court appearance, originally set for next week, to Jan. 7, allowing investigators to further probe the allegations against the former governor.
The move comes a week after Cuomo was charged with a misdemeanor sex offense related to allegations that he groped a staffer at the Executive Mansion in Albany last year.
The summons, filed by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, was issued without Soares’ knowledge.
“We were in the middle of that investigation when the Sheriff unilaterally and inexplicably filed a complaint in this Court,” Soares wrote in his appeal to move back the court date.
Sheriff Craig Apple admitted last week that he failed to coordinate with Soares’ office and said during a news conference he was surprised when the filing was made public and “would have liked” to have spoken with prosecutors as well as Cuomo’s attorney beforehand.
“It’s unfortunate that it came so fast, but again, criminal investigations don’t always go how you want,” Apple said.
Cuomo, 63, resigned two months ago after a damning report from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office detailed multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
The fallen Democrat has maintained his innocence, denying the most serious charges and complaining that comments he made to much-younger staffers were misunderstood and misinterpreted.
In the charging document filed last week, investigator Amy Kowalski wrote that Cuomo “knowingly and intentionally” committed the crime of forcible touching, a class A misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to a year in jail and is bail eligible.
While the victim’s name is redacted in the filing, former Cuomo executive assistant Brittany Commisso has publicly accused the ex-governor of groping her at his official residence late last year and filed a criminal complaint in August with the Sheriff’s Office in Albany.
Commisso, 33, told independent investigators working under James that Cuomo groped her and grabbed her breast while the two were alone in his office at the Executive Mansion last year. A November date is noted in the report.
In addition to the harassment claims, investigators determined the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” that was “rife with fear and intimidation.” The former governor’s legal team has raised several issues with the report and repeatedly accused James of using the probe to boost her political ambitions. James announced last week she is running for governor.
Soares wrote Friday that his office has received “hundreds of hours of videotaped testimony that must be reviewed and provided to the defendant.”
Despite the confusion over the summons and lack of coordination with prosecutors, Apple said last week he is confident that his office conducted a thorough investigation.
“I don’t know if it will go to trial. I think we have an overwhelming amount of evidence. We have a victim who has been cooperating fully every day, every step of the way,” he said. “As far as conviction, or something to that effect, that is really going to come down to is it a jury, is it a judge, and as well as the district attorney’s office.”