Brittany Commisso Accused Cuomo of Groping, Says It Was ‘Not Normal’
Brittany Commisso, the executive assistant who accused Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of groping her in the executive mansion and filed a criminal complaint against him, strongly refuted the governor’s claims that she initiated or hosted a physical contact between them, in an interview broadcast on Monday.
“I would never get up on my own and initiate a hug on the governor,” Ms. Commisso said in a joint interview with “CBS This Morning” and the Albany Times Union.
Ms Commisso also slammed the governor for stating in his defense that he routinely hugged, kissed and touched people in an attempt to put them at ease. His actions towards her, she said, made her uncomfortable.
“For me and the other women he did that to, oh, that wasn’t normal,” Ms. Commisso said. “It was not well received, and it was certainly not consensual.”
Ms Commisso’s allegations that Mr Cuomo groped her and grabbed her chest in the Executive Mansion last year are among the most serious brought against him.
They were corroborated by the state attorney general’s report, which included multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Mr. Cuomo. The 165-page report, in which Ms Commisso is referred to as “Executive Assistant No. 1”, found that Mr Cuomo harassed 11 women, most of them or former government employees.
The governor denied all accusations and strongly denied Ms. Commisso’s allegations.
“Let’s be clear,” he said on Tuesday. “It never happened.”
Mr Cuomo’s attorney, Rita Glavin, suggested at a press conference on Friday that Ms Commisso was not alone with the Governor of the Executive Mansion on the day in question and that she had been sent there to reasons different from those she had told investigators and journalists.
In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Ms Glavin also said she had evidence that Ms Commisso had “potential motives” for her claims, although she did not specify what the evidence was.
Ms Commisso, in her interview, described an escalation in sexual behavior during her time working with the governor.
Around November 2019, when she started helping Mr. Cuomo at the Executive Mansion, the governor was commenting on his appearance, according to the attorney general’s report. He told her she “looked good” for her age, suggested that she show “some leg” and appeared to object to her wearing her hair up, according to the report. .
During the interview, Ms Commisso further described an incident described in the report in which she said Mr Cuomo touched her inappropriately while the two were taking a photo.
Ms Commisso said she was at the Executive Mansion on December 31, 2019 to assist the governor in his upcoming state-of-state address. After completing her speech project, she said, Mr. Cuomo suggested they take a selfie.
The two stood side by side, she said. “I then felt while taking the selfie, his hand going down my back on my buttocks, and he started to rub it. Don’t drag it. Not, you know, brushing it quickly – rubbing my butt. “
She said Mr. Cuomo groped her again in November 2020, as she helped him out in his Executive Mansion office.
According to the report, one of Mr Cuomo’s assistants told Ms Commisso to attend to the governor in her executive mansion office, where she said he hugged her.
Ms Commisso said in the interview that she was concerned that a member of staff might come in and get the wrong idea and told Mr Cuomo: ‘you’re going to get us in trouble’.
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She said Mr. Cuomo then slammed the door and slipped his hand under his shirt and grabbed his chest.
The governor, she said, “shut the door so hard that I thought for sure, someone downstairs must be thinking if he hears that,” what’s going on ?
The attorney general’s report said Ms Commisso did not recall the exact date she said Mr Cuomo groped her, but that it was around November 16.
Ms Glavin, during her press conference, sought to dismiss Ms Commisso’s allegations by providing a detailed and alternate timeline of what happened that day, which she said was the only day Ms Commisso was at the Executive Mansion in November.
She particularly pointed to emails and phone logs to claim that Mr. Cuomo was busy at work and surrounded by senior associates that day. “The documentary evidence does not corroborate what she said,” Ms. Glavin said.
In his defense, Mr Cuomo told investigators that Ms Commisso was “the initiator” of any hugs between them, according to the report. He said he accepted the hugs because he “didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable about anything.”
Ms Commisso told CBS and The Times-Union that she believed the governor was lying.
She also said she did not come forward publicly because she feared reprisals. The report detailed the retaliatory efforts against another woman who spoke publicly about her allegation against the governor in December.
Mr Cuomo’s main assistant, Melissa DeRosa, was among those leading the effort, according to the report. On Sunday evening, Ms. DeRosa resigned her post.
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