The woman who accused former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of sexually abusing her in the executive mansion blasted the decision on Tuesday by a prosecutor to drop the case, saying such inaction is why victims of sexual harassment stay silent.
Brittany Commisso, who served as an executive assistant to Cuomo before he resigned, gave a statement to the Times Union of Albany criticizing Albany County District Attorney David Soares' office for declining to prosecute Cuomo on a misdemeanor charge of forcible touching.
“My disappointing experience of re-victimization with the failure to prosecute a serial sexual abuser, no matter what degree the crime committed, yet again sadly highlights the reason victims are afraid to come forward, especially against people in power,” Commisso said. “When will our voices uniformly be accepted? Where do we go to have our rights vindicated? Unfortunately, this is just another example of where our criminal justice system needs to do better.”
Commisso alleged that in December 2020, during an encounter with the governor in his private office, he reached under her blouse and groped her breast. She also accused the governor of engaging in a pattern of "sexually aggressive" behavior and workplace harassment leading up to that incident.
Investigations by the Albany County sheriff's office, the state attorney general's office, and the state Assembly's Judiciary Committee each concluded that Commisso's allegations were credible and that electronic records and other evidence confirmed she had visited the governor's office when she said the incident happened, the TImes Union reported. But Soares said in a statement that he could not prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" in court that Cuomo committed a crime.
"While we found the complainant in this case cooperative and credible, after review of all the available evidence we have concluded that we cannot meet our burden at trial," Soares said. "As such we have notified the court that we are declining to prosecute this matter and requesting the charges filed by the Albany County sheriff be dismissed."
Soares asked a judge to dismiss the charges against Cuomo.
Cuomo has repeatedly denied allegations of sexual abuse and did not comment on the prosecutor's decision.
The governor also faced allegations of mishandling COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, but a probe by the Manhattan district attorney's office concluded that Cuomo did not violate the law and prosecutors declined to press charges.
Commisso appealed to other victims of sexual harassment, asking that they don't let this incident deter them from reporting their abusers.
"To every victim out there silently suffering from sexual harassment at the hands of a powerful government official, wondering what will happen if you tell the truth, please don’t let what has happened to me deter you from speaking up," she said.