A New York state trooper is suing disgraced former Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for allegedly groping her. The lawsuit against Cuomo spilled into Twitter where Cuomo's spokesperson slammed the law firm representing the alleged sexual harassment victim.
The trooper's lawsuit filed in Manhattan on Thursday seeks attorney fees and damages for "severe mental anguish and emotional distress." The lawsuit accuses the state police of violating laws barring harassment.
"Given the threats and victim-shaming that Trooper 1 has faced after she testified truthfully about being sexually harassed in the workplace by the former governor, she has made the decision to proceed with this lawsuit anonymously with the hope that she can vindicate her legal rights and move on with her life," the trooper's counsel Valdi Licul said.
Last August, state Attorney General Letitia James said, "The independent investigation has concluded that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and in doing so violated federal and state law."
James specified that Cuomo "sexually harassed current and former New York State employees by engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women." James noted that there were multiple women accusing Cuomo of inappropriate behavior, including one unnamed woman who was referred to as "Trooper 1."
"Between 2013 and 2021, the Governor of the State of New York, Andrew Cuomo, sexually harassed at least 11 women, including nine current and former state employees,” the lawsuit begins. “He wanted hugs (‘the hugs definitely got closer and tighter to the point where I knew I could feel him pushing my body against his and definitely making sure that he could feel my breasts up against his body’); kisses (‘he would normally go to kiss me on the cheek and he would quickly turn his head and catch me on the lips’); and to talk about sex (‘he wanted to know if I slept with older men’). He told his victims he was ‘lonely’ and asked them to find him a ‘girlfriend.’ He leered at them (‘he was fully staring down my shirt’). And he touched them inappropriately (‘[h]e placed and pressed, then moved his finger across my breasts in a way that clearly meant to show me his power and his ability to control by body and my dignity’).”
The lawsuit also alleges that longtime aide Melissa DeRosa utilized the "machinery of the State" to orchestrate a cover-up of the purported unwanted advances. The suit accuses DeRosa – who was Cuomo's former chief-of-staff – of being "specifically involved in hiding the governor’s behavior."
DeRosa's attorney – Paul Shechtman – told NBC News that his client's "only interaction with her [the trooper] was to say 'hello and goodbye.' It is not a viable case anywhere in America and is beyond frivolous."
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi issued a statement on Thursday regarding the lawsuit.
"This claim relies on the AG’s proven fraud of a report, as demonstrated by the five district attorneys who, one by one – Democrat and Republican – looked at its findings and found no violations of law," Azzopardi said.
"If kissing someone on the cheek, patting someone on the back or stomach or waving hello at a public event on New Year’s Eve is actionable then we are all in trouble," he continued.
Azzopardi claimed that Wigdor LLP – the law firm representing the state trooper – is "widely known to use the press to extort settlements on behalf of 'anonymous claimants' – that is un-American and will not happen here."
"Gov. Cuomo will fight every attempt at cheap cash extortions and is anxious to have the dirty politics stop – we look forward to justice in a court of law," Azzopardi concluded.
Douglas Wigdor – a founding partner at the law firm – allegedly responded quickly to the accusations. He reportedly called on Cuomo to disavow Azzopardi's comments about the law firm and that the spokesperson retract the statements. If not, Wigdor said he would file an action for defamation.
On Friday morning, Wigdor reportedly filed a retaliation claim against Cuomo over Azzopardi's comments.
Azzopardi reacted by blasting the law firm.
"To be clear: I'm not afraid of these ambulance-chasing hucksters," he tweeted. "This is clearly protected free speech that is supported by actual facts; and while I'm no lawyer there is no way this thing against me is not going to get laughed out of court."
In August, Cuomo resigned just days after an independent investigation claimed he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women.