Now the final sexual assault charge against Andrew Cuomo has been dropped

Now the final sexual assault charge against Andrew Cuomo has been dropped
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, Pool

If you’re seeing the title of this article and getting a feeling of deja vu, you’re to be forgiven. It was only this morning that we reported on the news that former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo would not be facing charges following the investigation into the nearly ten thousand COVID deaths in New York nursing homes and extended care centers on his watch. At the time, I mentioned that there was only one charge pending against Cuomo for a misdemeanor sexual assault claim of forcible touching. He was scheduled to appear in court this month on that charge. Well, the former Governor’s wishlist for Santa has now apparently been granted in full. The Albany District Attorney has announced that that charge will also be dropped, at which point Cuomo will be free as a bird. And the reasons the DA is giving for the decision will sound very familiar to any of you who have been following this saga closely. (National Review)

The Albany County District Attorney’s office said Tuesday it was dropping criminal charges of forcible touching against former New York governor Andrew Cuomo just days before he was set to be arraigned.

District Attorney David Soares announced the dismissal of the misdemeanor criminal charges related to accusations that Cuomo forcibly touched a female aide in the governor’s mansion in December 2020, but added that the woman’s complaint was credible…

The announcement came three days before Cuomo was scheduled to appear in. court for the first time in the case, which the Albany County Sheriff’s Office had filed in October.

As I said, the explanation given by the District Attorney’s office strongly echos the previous announcements along these lines. David Soares said that the victim’s story was “credible,” but that after a thorough review of the evidence it was determined that, “we cannot meet our burden at trial.” As a result, they are “declining to prosecute” the case and asking that the charges be dismissed.

In other words, similar to the four cases that were dropped previously, prosecutors are being careful to say that they believe the woman’s story. They also believe that Cuomo did something creepy and offensive at a minimum. But they have no faith that the case they would be able to bring would result in a conviction.

This must come as a terrible disappointment to the woman who brought the accusation, but she has plenty of company in that sad club. All of the District Attorneys are referencing, “the statutory requirements of the criminal laws of New York.” In the previous cases, that sounded like a reasonable, if disappointing conclusion. They involved uninvited kissing, generally on the cheek, in public settings. This one sounded as if it was at least a bit stronger. Forcible “groping” or touching involving other body parts sounds much more like a full-blown case of sexual assault, though not rising to the level of rape or any other forcible penetration. Was this simply a case of “he said, she said,” where the DA didn’t feel that there was enough to go on without additional witnesses or some sort of physical evidence?

Assuming that DA’s request is granted (and such requests almost always are), this would appear to be the end of the line in terms of criminal charges that could result in jail time or at least some community service or probation. Barring any additional claimants coming forward with more recent stories, time behind bars will not likely be in the ex-governor’s future. But that doesn’t mean that the story is entirely behind us. As the District Attorney’s office reminds us at the end of his official statement, “the decision to discontinue criminal prosecution is unrelated to any possible civil liability, which is beyond the scope of a District Attorney’s jurisdiction.”

In other words, while Cuomo may never face criminal charges, his accusers could still go after him in civil court seeking damages. And if any of them do, their attorneys will no doubt bring forth the findings of the various District Attorneys who found their stories credible, if not rising to the level of being successfully prosecuted. Those proceedings could drag on for months if not years, however, so don’t expect any rapid path to justice in the near future.

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