Executive Assistant Who Accused Cuomo of Groping Says It Was ‘Not Normal’

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Brittany Commisso, the chief assistant who accused Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of groping her within the Executive Mansion and filed a criminal complaint against him, forcefully rebutted the governor’s claims that she initiated or welcomed physical contact between them, in an interview that aired on Monday. “I would never on my very own rise up and initiate a hug with the governor,” Ms. Commisso said during a joint interview with “CBS This Morning” and therefore the Albany Times Union. Ms. Commisso also criticized the governor for saying in his defense that he commonly hugs, kisses, and touches people in an attempt to place them comfortable. His actions toward her, she said, made her uncomfortable.

“To me and therefore the other women that he did this too, oh, it had been not normal,” Ms. Commisso said. “It wasn’t welcomed, and it had been never consensual.” Ms. Commisso’s allegations that Mr. Cuomo groped her and grabbed her breast within the Executive Mansion last year are among the foremost serious made against him. They were corroborated by the state’s attorney general’s report, including multiple allegations of harassment against Mr. Cuomo. The 165-page report, during which Ms. Commisso is mentioned as “Executive Assistant #1,” found that Mr. Cuomo harassed 11 women, most of them current or former state employees. The governor has denied all of the accusations and has strongly repudiated the allegations from Ms. Commisso.

“Let me be clear,” he said Tuesday. “That never happened.” Mr. Cuomo’s lawyer, Rita Glavin, suggested during a press conference on Friday that Ms. Commisso wasn’t alone with the governor at the chief Mansion on the day in question and was sent there for various reasons than she has told investigators and journalists. In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Ms. Glavin also said that she had evidence that Ms. Commisso had “potential motives” for her allegations, though she didn’t say what the evidence was. Ms. Commisso, in her interview, described an escalating pattern of sexual behavior during her time working with the governor.

Around November 2019, when she began to assist Mr. Cuomo at the chief Mansion, the governor would discuss her appearance, the attorney general’s report said. He told her she “looked good” for her age, suggested she show “some leg,” and appeared to disagree together with her wearing her hair up, the report said. During the interview, Ms. Commisso described in additional detail an event described within the report during which she said that Mr. Cuomo touched her inappropriately while the 2 were taking a photograph . Ms. Commisso said that she was at the chief Mansion on Dec. 31, 2019, to assist the governor together with his upcoming State of the State address. After finishing her draft of the speech, she said, Mr. Cuomo suggested the 2 of them take a selfie.

The two stood next to every other, she said. “I then felt while taking the selfie, his hand go down my back onto my butt, and he started rubbing it. Not sliding it. Not, you know, quickly brushing over it — rubbing my butt.” She said that Mr. Cuomo groped her again in November 2020, when she was helping him in his Executive Mansion office. According to the report, one of Mr. Cuomo’s aides told Ms. Commisso to attend to the governor at his Executive Mansion office, where she said he pulled her into an in-depth hug. Ms. Commisso said within the interview that she was afraid a staffer might enter and obtain the incorrect idea and told Mr. Cuomo, “you’re getting to get us in trouble.” She said that Mr. Cuomo then slammed the door shut, and slipped his hand under her shirt, and grabbed her breast.

The governor, she said, “shut the door so hard to the purpose where I assumed, needless to say, someone downstairs must think if they heard that, ‘what goes on?’” The attorney general’s report said that Ms. Commisso didn’t recall the precise date that she said Mr. Cuomo groped her but that it had been around Nov. 16. Ms. Glavin, during her press conference, sought to repudiate Ms. Commisso’s allegations by providing an in-depth, alternate timeline of what happened that day, which she said was the sole day Ms. Commisso was at the chief Mansion in November. She pointed especially to emails and phone logs to argue that Mr. Cuomo was busy working and surrounded by top aides thereon day. “The documentary evidence doesn’t support what she said,” Ms. Glavin said.

In his defense, Mr. Cuomo told investigators that Ms. Commisso was the “initiator” of any hugs between them, the report said. He said that he went by with the hugs because he didn’t “want to form anyone feels awkward about anything.” Ms. Commisso told CBS and therefore the Times-Union that she thought the governor was lying. She also said that she didn’t come to the fore publicly because she was scared of retaliation. The report described intimate efforts to retaliate against another woman who had spoken out publicly about her allegation against the governor in December. Mr. Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, was among those that spearheaded the trouble, the report said. On Sunday night, Ms. DeRosa resigned from her position.

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