Thu, October 28, 2021

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What he did to me was a crime: Cuomo executive assistant who filed criminal complaint breaks silence


The woman who filed a criminal complaint against New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week alleging he engaged in illegal sexual conduct has come forward publicly for the first time.

Brittany Commisso was previously identified only as "Executive Assistant #1" in a report released Tuesday by Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James after a lengthy investigation into numerous sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo. On Thursday, Commisso also filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo with the Albany County Sheriff's Office, but had remained anonymous.

In a joint interview with CBS's "This Morning" and the Albany Times Union that will air Monday, Commisso revealed herself to be "Executive Assistant #1." Previews of the interview were released by CBS throughout the day Sunday.

When asked why she had filed the criminal complaint against Cuomo, Commisso told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan, "it was the right thing to do."

"The governor needs to be held accountable," Commisso added.

When asked to clarify if that meant seeing Cuomo charged with a crime, Commisso nodded in the affirmative.

"What he did to me was a crime," she told Duncan. "He broke the law."

Commisso told Duncan that Cuomo began giving her "hugs with kisses on the cheek" and at one point Cuomo hugged her, quickly turned his head and kissed her on the lips. Commisso also said Cuomo groped her - "he touched me, not only once, but twice" - and said she was too afraid to say anything.

"I didn't say anything this whole time. People don't understand that this is the governor of the state of New York," Commisso told Duncan. "There are troopers that are outside of the mansion and there are some mansion staff. Those troopers that are there - they are not there to protect me. They are there to protect him."

According to the attorney general's report, Commisso told investigators that Cuomo harassed her both verbally and physically, including groping her breast in the governor's mansion in Albany. Cuomo has denied the allegations.

Commisso told investigators that one day, Cuomo allegedly told her it was "about time you showed some leg" when she wore a dress, and later asked if she had kissed or "fooled around" with someone other than her husband.

At one point, the governor allegedly said to Commisso something like, "If you were single, the things I would do to you," she recalled, per the attorney general's report. In one incident, he allegedly asked her to take a selfie with him and then "moved his hand to grab her butt cheek and began to rub it," the report said. Commisso told investigators she was shaking so much that the photos were blurry.

In November, Commisso was dispatched to assist Cuomo at the executive mansion, according to the report. As she was leaving, he slammed the door shut and slid his hand up her blouse, cupping her breast, according to the investigation. "I remember thinking to myself who - I knew what just went on, I knew and he knew too that was wrong," she told investigators. "And that I in no way, shape or form invited that nor did I ask for it. I didn't want it. I feel like I was being taken advantage of."

Commisso told investigators from the attorney general's office that she planned to take Cuomo's actions "to her grave" but grew upset after hearing him deny inappropriately touching women.

On Friday, a spokesman for the governor reiterated Cuomo's denial that he groped the assistant and said that the office notified authorities after she told a supervisor about her experience.

"As we said previously, we proactively made a referral nearly four months ago in accordance with state policies," said Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor.

Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin questioned the assistant's account of the breast groping in a news conference Friday. She said a reconstruction of the events on Nov. 16, a possible date of the incident given in the report, showed that the assistant was on a different floor from the governor for much of the day and that she did not leave abruptly, but offered to continue working late at the mansion. The attorney general's report notes that the assistant was not certain of the date of the incident. But Glavin said that records show that Nov. 16 was the only day that month the assistant entered the mansion.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple vowed Saturday that his office would conduct a "very comprehensive investigation" into the criminal complaint filed against Cuomo, and took pains to keep her identity secret during a news conference.

Apple also said his investigators would not be rushed or swayed either way by the high-profile nature of the case.

Cuomo is facing a growing number of calls to resign, including from President Biden and other top Democrats, after 11 women accused him of sexual harassment and retaliation.

"We treat victims the same. We investigate the same. This one has more eyes on it," Apple said Saturday. "I'm not going to rush it because of who [Cuomo] is and I'm not going to delay it because of who he is."

Published : August 09, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Amy B Wang, Josh Dawsey