A woman has filed a criminal complaint against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, accusing him of groping her breast.
The former employee in Mr Cuomo‘s office, known only as “Executive Assistant #1”, filed the complaint with the Albany County Sheriff’s office on Thursday.
The development increases the possibility that Mr Cuomo could face criminal charges.
The alleged incident was the most serious of a number of claims detailed in a 165-page report released by the New York attorney general’s office this week.
The report alleged that Mr Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women and that his office was “toxic”, creating a “climate of fear”.
Executive Assistant #1 said Mr Cuomo, 63, hugged her and then reached under her shirt and fondled her breast.
The incident is said to have taken place at the governor’s mansion in the state capital, Albany, in November 2020.
In the attorney general’s report, Executive Assistant #1 was quoted as saying: “I have to tell you it was – at the moment I was in such shock that I could just tell you that I just remember looking down seeing his hand, seeing the top of my bra….”
The report, based on interviews with complainants, alleged that Mr Cuomo “slid his hand up her blouse, and grabbed her breast, ‘cup[ping her] breast’ over her bra”.
In a TV statement responding to the attorney general’s report, Mr Cuomo denied any wrongdoing and described the woman’s claims as “another allegation that I groped a woman in my office”, adding: “That never happened”.
The governor’s lawyers had already said they would tackle the claims head-on in the courts if required.
Responding to news that the woman had now filed a criminal complaint, Mr Cuomo’s spokesman, Richard Azzopardi, said: “As we said previously, we proactively made a referral nearly four months ago in accordance with state policies.”
In a lengthy statement, released this week in response to all the allegations, Mr Cuomo’s attorney addressed Executive Assistant #1’s claims, saying: “The governor was stunned by her claim made for the first time in early March 2021 (after Lindsay Boylan and Charlotte Bennett’s claims were made public) that he groped her breast under her shirt and over her bra in his mansion office during a work day in November 2020.
“This claim is false, as the governor has stated repeatedly and unequivocally.”
The statement continued: “He has never behaved in this manner and never would.
“It would be a pure act of insanity for the governor – who is 63 years old and lives his life under a microscope – to grab an employee’s breast in the middle of the work day at his mansion office.
“This simply did not happen.”
Since the release of the attorney general’s report this week, calls have grown for Mr Cuomo to step down.
US President Joe Biden, a friend and political ally of the governor, also told reporters that he thought Mr Cuomo should resign.
An impeachment probe is also nearing its conclusion, with the governor agreeing to give evidence to investigators.