Sheriff Says Criminal Complaint Against Cuomo Shouldn't Have Gone Public So Soon

A New York sheriff who filed a criminal complaint against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he didn't mean for the case to go public so soon but still wants it to move forward, the Associated Press reported.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple filed the complaint in Albany City Court with allegations that Cuomo forcibly touched a woman in December of 2020, but he didn't inform prosecutors or the woman who alleged the former governor groped her beforehand.

The complaint did not refer to the woman by name, but she has identified herself publicly as Brittany Commisso, who previously worked for Cuomo as an executive assistant. Apple described the case going public as a "leak," though those types of filings are public in New York, AP reported.

"We didn't want everybody to know exactly what we were doing because we didn't want all this, the circus," Apple said during an interview with radio host Paul Vandenburgh of Albany's Talk 1300.

He said that the case would move forward nonetheless as they await Cuomo's ordered court appearance on November 17.

"We have the facts of the investigation and the criminal summons was issued," Apple said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Cuomo Criminal Complaint
A criminal complaint filed with a court in Albany has charged former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with a misdemeanor sex crime, according to a spokesman for the state court system. Above, Cuomo during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on May 27, 2020. Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Forcible touching is a misdemeanor in New York, punishable by up to a year in jail, though many cases for first-time offenders are resolved with probation or a shorter jail sentence.

The Albany County District Attorney's office said after the charge was filed that it had not been informed ahead of time. It has been conducting its own investigation and was expected to take the lead on a decision about whether to prosecute.

Commisso's lawyer, Brian Premo, said he had also expected the district attorney's office to handle the case.

"I have no doubt that the sheriff's investigators did a thorough job," Premo told Talk 1300. "I have no doubt that they believe in their case. I have no issue with any of that. It's just that this is a politically charged matter, right?...So I think it's only prudent to allow the prosecutorial authority to have a say in how the investigation is conducted and whether there's a prosecution, right?"

As for the district attorney's office, Apple said they did "separate investigations."

"I'm not sure what the district attorney's investigation has as of this point," he said.

Commisso accused Cuomo of groping her when they were alone in an office at the governor's mansion in Albany. Cuomo has denied the allegations.

AP does not identify alleged sexual assault victims unless they decide to tell their stories publicly, as Commisso has done.

A spokesman for the former governor said Thursday's surprise developments were evidence that the case is politically motivated.

"In an unprecedented move, Craig Apple 'erroneously' filed misdemeanor charges against former Governor Cuomo without notification or authorization of the district attorney or the complainant," said the spokesman, Rich Azzopardi.

"It seemed the only person who was notified, and had a statement ready to go, was Tish James," he said, referring to the state's attorney general, who oversaw a civil investigation into Cuomo's conduct with women, but was not involved in the sheriff's criminal probe.

James announced Friday that she was running for governor.

Cuomo Faces Criminal Complaint
A New York sheriff who filed a criminal complaint against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he didn’t mean for the case to go public so soon but still wants it to move forward. Above, Cuomo speaks during a press conference at One World Trade Center on June 15, 2021, in New York City. David Dee Delgado/Getty Images