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A misdemeanor sex charge has been filed against former Gov. Cuomo

NOEL KING, HOST:

Andrew Cuomo, New York's former governor, faces a criminal complaint linked to the sexual harassment scandal that forced him to resign back in August. The Albany County sheriff filed a misdemeanor charge of forcible touching yesterday. Cuomo still denies any serious wrongdoing. And just a quick warning, this interview will include some details about sexual misconduct. NPR's Brian Mann is with us now. Good morning, Brian.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.

KING: What do you know about this alleged incident?

MANN: So according to the criminal complaint that was filed by the Albany County sheriff yesterday, a female staffer was at the governor's mansion back in December doing work, when Andrew Cuomo allegedly put his hand under her blouse and touched her breast. And this complaint accuses Cuomo of degrading the woman and - I'm quoting here - "gratifying his sexual desires" with this action. Forcible touching is a Class A misdemeanor in New York. And that means if found guilty, Cuomo could face up to a year behind bars.

KING: What does he say about this?

MANN: Well, from the beginning, Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing. And yesterday evening, his attorney, Rita Glavin, issued a statement saying Cuomo has, quote, "never assaulted anyone." Glavin went on to accuse the Albany sheriff, Craig Apple, of mounting a politically motivated investigation. And really, all along, Noel, Cuomo has said he was driven from office by what he describes as a political witch hunt. It is important to point out that all the players involved in this - in the state legislature, the attorney general's office, even the Albany County sheriff - they're all Democrats. They're members of Cuomo's own party. And Andrew Cuomo has never really articulated a clear explanation why these women who have accused him of misbehavior and all these politicians and people in law enforcement, why they would all conspire against him.

KING: Right. And you point out, it is women, plural. Remind us about the bigger scandal that drove him from office earlier this year.

MANN: Yeah. It was really a remarkable political downfall. Andrew Cuomo, of course, gained national fame with his daily briefings during the first months of the pandemic. But over the last year, 11 women came forward. They accused Cuomo of harassment and touching them inappropriately. A probe by the state attorney general's office led to a damning report that found a lot of evidence supporting the women's claims. At first, Cuomo promised to fight, to stay in office. But when it became clear he'd be impeached and removed from office by his fellow Democrats in the legislature, he did step aside. And of course, it didn't end there. The Albany County Sheriff's Department opened this probe into Cuomo's behavior, yesterday filed this first criminal complaint. And really, what it adds up to is a devastating moment for Cuomo, who was himself a former state attorney general, as well as governor.

KING: What happens next? Does he go to court?

MANN: Yeah. He'll be back in court in November, November 17. So it does not appear that there will be any kind of public arrest, which some of Cuomo's critics had called for. Several other county sheriff departments have signaled they're investigating claims of sexual misconduct by Cuomo that allegedly occurred in their jurisdictions. And some of the women who've accused Cuomo of this sexual misconduct have also indicated that they might sue him. So - you know, while the political fallout in Albany caused by Cuomo's resignation, that's pretty much subsided now, it appears there's a lot more turmoil ahead for Andrew Cuomo himself. This one criminal complaint really could just be the start of his legal troubles.

KING: NPR's Brian Mann in upstate New York. Thank you, Brian.

MANN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.