Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple announced Saturday that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) could be the subject of criminal charges if his department corroborates a criminal complaint that alleges the governor engaged in illegal sexual conduct.
What are the details?
At a press conference, Apple promised a "very comprehensive" investigation into the allegations against Cuomo, but declined to provide many additional details.
Apple explained that his office was contacted by the lawyer of an alleged victim on the same day that New York Attorney General Letita James released a 165-page report detailing sexual harassment claims against Cuomo, and allegations that his office retaliated against accusers. James concluded that Cuomo had broken state and federal laws, but declined to recommend prosecution.
"I cannot get into the nature of her specific allegations at this time, obviously. We're at the very infant stages of this investigation," Apple said on Saturday, Fox News reported. "We have a lot of fact-finding to do. We have a lot of interviews to conduct. And it would be totally premature for me to comment on any of that."
The alleged victim filed an official report with the Albany County Sheriff's Office two days later, the New York Post reported.
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The unidentified victim lodged the most serious accusation against the governor detailed in AG James' report, alleging he pulled her in for a hug, reached under her blouse and fondled one of her breasts in the Executive Mansion in Albany on Nov. 16.
After the criminal complaint was lodged, Apple told the New York Post that an investigation would not be influenced by the fact that Cuomo is a powerful politician. He reiterated that sentiment on Saturday.
"I'm the county sheriff. I'm not going to be intimidated. I'm not going to be coerced," Apple said. "That would not play out well for anybody."
Could Cuomo be arrested?
Apple admitted Saturday that it was "premature" to say whether the investigation would end with Cuomo's arrest or any criminal charges, the Washington Post reported.
However, if investigators substantiate the allegations, Cuomo could be facing misdemeanor charges.
Apple said he would conduct the investigation together with the Albany County district attorneys office, and said he has requested investigative materials from the New York state attorney general's office.
Fabien Levy, a spokesman for James' office, said the state attorney general's office would "cooperate fully with the Albany sheriff and turn over all evidence related to this complainant."
What is Cuomo saying?
The governor's attorneys have denied Cuomo committed any wrongdoing.
According to the Post, Rita Glavin, a personal attorney for the governor, both questioned the allegation that is now the subject of the Albany County Sheriff's investigation and suggested Cuomo is being treated unfairly.
"The governor deserves to be treated fairly, like anybody else in this country accused of something," Glavin said Friday. "He is 63 years old. He has spent 40 years in public life. And for him to all of a sudden be accused of a sexual assault of an executive assistant that he really doesn't know doesn't pass muster."
Cuomo has refused to resign despite facing calls to step down from all levels of the Democratic Party, including President Joe Biden.