Last Sex-Crime Inquiry Into Andrew Cuomo Is Dropped
ALBANY, N.Y. — The last of five criminal investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct against former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ended on Monday with the Oswego County district attorney joining his peers in concluding that there were insufficient legal grounds to bring criminal charges.
The district attorney, Gregory S. Oakes, said in a statement that his decision was not a reflection on Virginia Limmiatis, the woman who had come forward, “or how harmful the acts she experienced were.”
Mr. Oakes’s reasoning mirrored similar language used by prosecutors in Albany, Westchester and Nassau Counties, who opened inquiries into separate allegations but declined to prosecute even though they found the women accusing Mr. Cuomo to be credible. Prosecutors in Manhattan have also closed their investigation, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Inquiries conducted by the state attorney general, Letitia James, and the State Assembly found that allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct made by multiple women were credible. Mr. Cuomo, a three-term Democrat, resigned a week after Ms. James’s report was released.
Mr. Cuomo has consistently denied having touched anyone inappropriately.
“As now five D.A.s have verified, none of the accusations in Tish James’s fraud of a report have stood up to any level of real scrutiny,” Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, said in a statement. “As we’ve said since the beginning, the truth will come out.”
Mariann Wang, a lawyer for Ms. Limmiatis, thanked Mr. Oakes for what she characterized as his careful consideration, adding: “The fact that this matter is not being criminally prosecuted does not mean Cuomo is innocent.”
Ms. Limmiatis was working for National Grid when she encountered Mr. Cuomo at an event in 2017. She told investigators for the attorney general’s office that Mr. Cuomo had run his fingers across her chest as he read the name of her company off her shirt. Then, she said, he leaned in close to her cheek.
“I’m going to say I see a spider on your shoulder,” he said, then brushed her chest, she told investigators, adding that the experience left her “profoundly humiliated and appalled.”
Mr. Cuomo and his team have publicly pointed to photographs taken that day. Rita Glavin, a lawyer for Mr. Cuomo, said in a statement that the photos “indisputably showed that Governor Cuomo did not act improperly,” praising the outcome of the Oswego investigation as a triumph of truth over “mob mentality.”
Mr. Cuomo and his team have denounced the attorney general’s report, calling it a political hit job intended to clear the way for Ms. James’s own bid for governor. (Ms. James declared her candidacy for the state’s top job last year, but withdrew after several months, saying that she had more to accomplish as attorney general.)
The Downfall of Andrew Cuomo
The path to resignation. After drawing national praise for his leadership in the early days of the pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was confronted with several scandals that eventually led to his resignation on Aug. 10, 2021. Here is what to know about his political demise:
Sexual harassment accusations. Multiple women accused Mr. Cuomo of harassment, including groping and lewd remarks. An independent inquiry by the New York State attorney general corroborated the accounts. The investigation also found that he retaliated against at least one woman who made her complaints public.
Nursing home controversy. The Cuomo administration came under fire for undercounting the number of nursing-home deaths caused by Covid-19 in the first half of 2020. The official tally might have undercounted the true toll by as much as 50 percent.
Book deal. The attorney general’s report found that Mr. Cuomo used state workers to produce his pandemic memoir, breaking a promise to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics not to use state resources for its completion. The board subsequently voted to revoke its authorization for the book.
Chris Cuomo’s involvement. Chris Cuomo, a CNN anchor and Andrew Cuomo’s brother, was suspended indefinitely by the network on Nov. 30, after the New York State attorney general released new evidence about his far-reaching efforts to assist his sibling that were in breach of journalistic standards. He was fired on Dec. 4.
In recent months, Mr. Cuomo’s team has sharpened its attacks on Ms. James, saying that she deliberately withheld evidence and ignored leads that might have vindicated him.
“The findings of this independent investigation have been corroborated by a mountain of evidence, the Assembly’s report, and multiple district attorneys, including the Oswego D.A. today,” a spokesperson from the attorney general’s office said. “Mr. Cuomo’s relentless attacks on these brave women will not mask the truth — he is a serial sexual harasser.”
The dismissal of criminal charges by the five county prosecutors, even as they affirmed the accusers’ credibility, left many advocates against sexual violence worried about the message that would be sent to victims about coming forward.
Mr. Oakes’s statement went a step beyond the other prosecutors, however, concluding with an unusual appeal to lawmakers.
“This investigation makes clear what victims, their advocates, police and prosecutors have said for years: The current sex offense statues in New York fail to properly hold offenders accountable,” he said, adding: “Please address this issue.”
Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.