He was seen for only for a second, but former Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared in an Albany city courtroom via livestream on Friday to have the forcible touching case filed against him dismissed. His attorney Rita Glavin later praised the result.
Cuomo was arraigned on a charge stemming from an allegation he groped a former aide at the Executive Mansion. Moments later, the case was formally tossed out by Judge Holly Trexler.
“Reason and the rule of law prevailed — not politics, rhetoric or mob mentality,” Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin said after the proceeding.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares this week moved to have the case dismissed. Soares has said while the allegations Cuomo groped aide Brittany Commisso in 2020 were troubling, there was not enough evidence to moved forward. Outside the courtroom Friday, longtime Capital Region activist Michael Carey urged Judge Holly Trexler to appoint a special prosecutor in the case in order to move it forward.
“A lot of the people are tired of corruption here in Albany and people, including governors, getting away with just about everything,” Carey said.
Commisso was one of 11 women whose allegations were included in a report released in August by state Attorney General Letitia James. Albany-area defense attorney Paul DerOhannesian, who is unconnected to the case, pointed to Soares’ hesitation with moving forward following a 60-day review that began in November.
“There were facts in the case that still didn’t make him feel confident enough to go forward,” he said. “We don’t know what those facts are. So in that sense, there are still some missing pieces to the puzzle here.”
Nevertheless, the amount of information generated is striking, DerOhannesian said.
“There really isn’t a case like this that I think of where there was such information out there already, and I’m talking about the attorney general’s report, as well as the complaint in this case which had a lot of information also,” he said.
Cuomo could still face a civil case stemming from the sexual harassment complaints made against him, where the threshold for legal claims is not as stringent.
“The whole definition and concept of sexual harassment in the workplace is much broader than the crime of forcible touching,” DerOhannesian said.
Cuomo’s legal team pointed to three local prosecutors having now declined to take cases against Cuomo.
“For the last several weeks, we have remained silent while the process played itself out — do not confuse our respect for the justice system with acquiescence,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi.
Cuomo is also under investigation by federal and state authorities for his administration’s reporting of nursing home fatality data and his use of government resources to help him write a lucrative book about the pandemic.