Cuomo’s ex-assistant details groped allegations
An assistant who accused Andrew Cuomo of groping her said in her first TV interview that she was initially afraid to identify with herself because she feared the New York governor’s “facilitators” would destroy her if she spoke.
Brittany Commisso, executive assistant to Mr Cuomo’s staff, detailed her interactions with the Democrat in a joint interview with CBS and The Times Union of Albany that aired on Monday, as a key legislative committee was due to discuss possible hearings of impeachment.
Ms Commisso has spoken out before, first in an anonymous interview with The Times Union last winter, and then as one of 11 women who said they were sexually harassed by Mr Cuomo whose allegations have been made. were detailed in a report from the state attorney general’s office last week. .
She was also the first woman to file a criminal complaint against Mr. Cuomo, reporting to the county sheriff on Thursday.
But so far, audiences haven’t heard her tell her own story.
“I was afraid that if I had to come forward and reveal my name, that the governor and his facilitators, I like to call them, viciously attack me, smear my name, as I had seen and heard them do before to people.” , said Ms Commisso, 32.
She said she wanted to protect her daughter as well, but now feels like speaking shows her that she “has a voice”.
“I never want her to be afraid to speak,” Ms. Commisso said.
“I never want her to be afraid of a person in power, a man or a woman.”
The interview aired as Mr. Cuomo faces another day under fire.
Many Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have urged Cuomo to step down.
About two-thirds of members of the National Assembly said they supported an impeachment trial if he refused to resign, according to an Associated Press tally.
Only a simple majority vote is needed to start an impeachment trial.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee was scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss how to conclude an ongoing investigation into Mr. Cuomo’s conduct with women, and other matters, including the use of staff to help with his $ 5 million book contract and his administration’s decision to withhold from the public the full statistics on Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes.
Mr Cuomo will go into the fight without his former main assistant, Melissa DeRosa, who stepped down on Sunday night, saying the past two years have been “emotionally and mentally trying.”
The report released by state attorney general Letitia James said Ms DeRosa played a leading role in trying to protect Mr Cuomo from the harassment allegations.
Among other things, he said she was involved in giving memos to reporters about Lindsey Boylan, the first woman to publicly accuse him of harassment.
The files described Ms Boylan’s exit from administration amid allegations that she had mistreated her own staff.
In her CBS interview, Ms Commisso said Mr Cuomo first groped her on December 31, 2019, when the governor suggested the two take a selfie together.
“He was to my left. I was on the right. With my right hand, I took the selfie. I then felt while taking the selfie, his hand going down my back to my buttocks, and he started to rub it. Don’t drag it. Not, you know, brushing it quickly – rubbing my butt. “
Ms Commisso, who started working in the governor’s office in 2017, said it made her so nervous that her hands started to shake, which even made it difficult for her to take the picture.
“I was embarrassed,” she says.
Ms Commisso said Mr Cuomo groped her a second time at the governor’s mansion in November 2020.
After closing the door, “he came back to me and that’s when he put his hand on my blouse and cupped my chest over my bra,” she said. declared.
“I exactly remember looking down, seeing his hand, which is a big hand, saying to myself, ‘Oh, my God. It’s happening ”.
Mr. Cuomo has repeatedly denied that the episode took place.
In an interview with investigators with the state attorney general, he said “I would have to lose my mind to do such a thing” to a woman he barely knew, with several staff around.
The Associated Press generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual misconduct unless they choose to speak out publicly, as Ms. Commisso did.
Lawyers for Mr. Cuomo attacked the attorney general’s investigation as biased in favor of his accusers.
At least five district attorneys have requested documents from the attorney general’s investigation to see if any of the allegations could lead to criminal charges.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said on Saturday that Mr. Cuomo could face misdemeanor charges if investigators substantiate Ms. Commisso’s complaint.