Long Island DA won’t prosecute Cuomo over trooper’s harassment allegation

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FILE – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares to board a helicopter after announcing his resignation on Aug. 10, 2021, in New York. The U.S. Department of Justice began a civil inquiry in August into sexual harassment claims made against former Cuomo, New York officials disclosed Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

MINEOLA, N.Y. (PIX11/AP) — The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office (NCDA) shut down the possibility of criminal prosecution against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the district. A Long Island prosecutor announced Thursday that their office is declining to prosecute after a woman state trooper said she felt “completely violated” by Cuomo’s unwanted touching at an event at Belmont Park in September 2019.

Prosecutors investigated the allegations of misconduct made by the trooper. Though found to be “credible” and “deeply troubling,” acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith said they weren’t criminal under New York law.

“It is important to note that our investigation was limited to alleged conduct at Belmont Racetrack, and prosecutors in other jurisdictions continue to review other allegations of misconduct by Mr. Cuomo,” Smith said. “We thank the brave individuals who came forward and cooperated with our office during this investigation.”

Smith started investigating the racetrack encounter after it was detailed in Attorney General Letitia James’ August report on sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo. The report, chronicling accusations from 11 women, led to Cuomo’s resignation from office.

According to James’ report, the trooper said Cuomo ran the palm of his left hand across her stomach, to her belly button and then to her right hip, where she kept her gun, while she held a door open for him as he left an event at Belmont Park on Sept. 23, 2019.

Cuomo was at the state-owned racetrack, home to the last leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, to break ground on a new arena for the NHL’s New York Islanders. The arena, adjacent to the track’s main grandstand and paddock, opened last month.

The trooper, a member of Cuomo’s security detail, told James’ investigators that Cuomo’s conduct made her feel “completely violated because to me, like that’s between my chest and my privates.” James’ report said that although the trooper was upset by Cuomo’s unwanted touching, she did not feel she could do anything about it, telling investigators: “I’m here to do a job.”

“I’m a trooper, newly assigned to the travel team. Do I want to make waves? No,” she said, according to the report. She said she had no plans to report. “I’ve heard horror stories about people getting kicked off the detail or transferred over like little things.”

The trooper told James’ investigators that what happened at Belmont Park was just one of many instances of Cuomo’s “flirtatious” and “creepy” behavior toward her. Once, in an elevator, he traced his finger from her neck to her back, she said. Another time, he asked to kiss her in the driveway outside his Mount Kisco home, she said.

“I remember just freezing, being—in the back of my head, I’m like, ‘Oh, how do I say no politely?’” she told investigators.

The NCDA investigation was limited only to the encounter at Belmont Park, which is on the county’s border with New York City. Authorities in other parts of the state have been looking into other allegations in James’ report.

In October, the Albany County sheriff’s office filed a misdemeanor groping complaint against Cuomo, but a week later the district attorney asked a judge for more time to evaluate the evidence, saying the sheriff’s one-page criminal complaint was “potentially defective.” At the prosecutor’s request, a court delayed Cuomo’s scheduled arraignment until January 7.

A message seeking comment was left with Cuomo’s spokesperson.

Take a look at the full NCDA statement below:

The NCDA has concluded its investigation into allegations of misconduct by former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo at Belmont Racetrack in September 2019 as detailed in the Attorney Genral’s report. Our exshautive investigation found the allegations credible, deeply troubling, but not criminal under New York law. It is important to note that our investiagaiton was limiited to alleged coinduct at Belmont Racetrack, and prosecugtors in other jurisdictions continue to review other allegations of misconduct by Mr. Cuomo. We thank the brave individuals who came forward and cooperated with our office during the is investigation, and graetfeully acknoweldge our colleagues, Attoreyn General James and the New York State Assembly, for their dilignece and collaboration.

Joyce Smith

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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