Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will not face criminal charges for an incident in which a state trooper claims he inappropriately touched her stomach at Belmont Park in 2019.
Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith announced Thursday that Cuomo’s alleged conduct at the famed Long Island racetrack did not rise to the level of a crime, even though she found the trooper’s claims to be credible.
“Our exhaustive investigation found the allegations credible, deeply troubling, but not criminal under New York law,” Smith said in a statement.
The state trooper was one of 11 women whose claims of sexual harassment were detailed in an August report from Attorney General Letitia James’ office, which helped lead to the former governor’s resignation.
The trooper, whose name was withheld by investigators, testified about multiple uncomfortable encounters with Cuomo, including a September 2019 event at Belmont Park.
While providing security for Cuomo, the trooper said she held the door open for him as he left the event. As he walked by, Cuomo ran the palm of his left hand across the trooper’s stomach before settling on her right hip, not far from her gun, according to the report.
The trooper told the attorney general’s investigators that she felt “completely violated” because Cuomo’s hand had come to rest “between [her] chest and her privates.”
Cuomo has denied any sexual harassment of the trooper, and has said he had no recollection of ever touching her stomach.
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, said the district attorney’s decision is evidence that James’ original report – which concluded Cuomo’s conduct violated state and federal sexual harassment law — was politically motivated.
“With each passing day it becomes more and more clear that the Attorney General’s report was the intersection of gross prosecutorial misconduct and an abuse of government power for political purposes,” Azzopardi said in a statement.
A handful of county district attorneys launched investigations of Cuomo’s conduct detailed in the attorney general’s report, including Smith, whose jurisdiction includes Belmont Park. Several of those investigations remain ongoing.
“It is important to note that our investigation was limited to alleged conduct at Belmont Racetrack, and prosecutors in other jurisdictions continue to review other allegations of misconduct by Mr. Cuomo,” Smith said in her statement.
Cuomo, meanwhile, is already facing a criminal complaint in the city of Albany, where one of his executive assistants, Brittany Commisso, claims he reached under her shirt and groped her breast during an encounter at the Executive Mansion in late 2020.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple’s office filed the misdemeanor forcible touching complaint in October. But the complaint was filed without the knowledge of Albany County District Attorney David Soares, whose office has raised concern that the complaint is “potentially defective.”
Cuomo is due for arraignment on the complaint on Jan. 7, though it’s possible that date could be delayed as it was in November.
In her interview with the attorney general’s investigators, the state trooper at the center of the Belmont Park incident testified that she was abruptly moved to Cuomo’s security detail after briefly crossing paths with him at a November 2017 event at the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.
At the time, troopers had to have a minimum of three years experience to be elevated to the governor’s detail. But after Cuomo expressed an interest in having the trooper join, the requirement was quickly changed to two years, which allowed her to qualify.
Cuomo told the investigators that he was unaware of any minimum requirements. He said he supported the trooper joining his detail because he was always looking to increase racial and gender diversity on his team.
Along with the Belmont Park incident, the trooper claimed Cuomo made multiple inappropriate comments and touched her in a way that made her uncomfortable, including asking her why she didn’t wear a dress and always wore dark colors.
On one occasion, the trooper claims Cuomo asked why she would want to get married since “it always ends in divorce, and you lose money, and your sex drive goes down,” according to the report. On a different occasion, the trooper said Cuomo asked her opinion about an acceptable age difference between romantic partners, remarking that he wanted someone who “can handle pain.”
The trooper also detailed an incident in the governor’s Manhattan office. While standing in front of Cuomo in an elevator, she claims the governor ran his finger down her spine and said, “Hey, you.”
In his testimony with the attorney general’s investigators, Cuomo denied many of the trooper’s claims, including that he touched her inappropriately or made remarks about her appearance.
Asked specifically whether he touched her stomach at Belmont Park, Cuomo said he didn’t recall it.
“If I did, it was incidental, and I don't remember doing that,” Cuomo said.
This story has been updated to include a comment from Andrew Cuomo's spokesperson. It's also been updated to correctly reflect Cuomo's court appearance.