Andrew Cuomo Could See Jail Time if Found Guilty of Forcible Touching

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, could possibly face jail time if he were to be found guilty of a charge of forcibly touching a female aide at the Executive Mansion in Albany last December.

A criminal complaint was filed in Albany City Court on Thursday, which required Cuomo to appear for a hearing on November 17. The former governor was charged with forcible touching, a class A misdemeanor. This charge stems from an allegation by former aide Brittany Commisso, who alleges that Cuomo groped her breast without her consent at the governor's residence on December 7, 2020.

Although the once-powerful Democratic leader and his attorney have denied the allegation—as well as numerous others raised by multiple former female staffers and other women—Cuomo could face jail time if he were to be found guilty. Under New York law, forcible touching carries a penalty of up to one year in jail.

Other punishments for the misdemeanor include community service, three years of probation, a sentence combining probation and a jail sentence of less than one year. Cuomo would not be required to register as a sex offender, as a guilty verdict would only require he do so if Commisso was under the age of 18 at the time of the interaction or if the former New York governor had a specific criminal history.

Andrew Cuomo
Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been charged with forcible touching, a Class A misdemeanor, by an Albany court. Pictured, Cuomo speaks during a news conference on May 10 in New York City. Mary Altaffer-Pool/Getty Images

New York law defines the crime of forcibly touching "the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person, or for the purpose of gratifying the actor's sexual desire." It explains that "forcible touching includes squeezing, grabbing or pinching." The action must be carried out "intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose" for the action to be considered a crime.

The investigation into Cuomo's actions was launched by the Albany County sheriff's office in August after Commisso filed a complaint. The misdemeanor complaint was signed by an investigator from Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple's office. Cuomo's attorney Rita Glavin released a Thursday statement denying the allegation, and the former governor has previously denied the allegation as well.

"Governor Cuomo has never assaulted anyone, and Sheriff Apple's motives here are patently improper," Glavin said. "Sheriff Apple didn't even tell the District Attorney what he was doing. But Apple's behavior is no surprise given (1) his August 7 press conference where he essentially pronounced the Governor guilty before doing an investigation, and (2) his Office's leaking of grand jury information. This is not professional law enforcement; this is politics."

Newsweek reached out to Glavin for further comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Cuomo resigned in August as Democratic leaders—including President Joe Biden—demanded he step down in the wake of a scathing report by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The attorney general investigated numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against the governor, concluding that at least 11 women had faced sexual harassment at his hands.

Cuomo argued that the report's conclusions were politically motivated, maintaining that he never sexually harassed anyone. "The most serious allegations made against me had no credible factual basis in the report. And there is a difference between alleged improper conduct and concluding sexual harassment," he said in his resignation speech.