The sex-crime case in opposition to former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was thrown into doubt on Friday after the Albany County district lawyer wrote a rare letter to the court docket during which he characterised a felony grievance as “probably faulty” as a result of it didn’t embrace a sworn assertion by the sufferer that will permit a prosecution to proceed.
In a letter to an Albany, N.Y., choose, the district lawyer, David Soares, took concern with the Albany County sheriff for “unilaterally and inexplicably” filing the complaint last week with out the information of Mr. Soares, whose personal investigation was nonetheless energetic.
Mr. Soares famous a number of potential issues with the sheriff’s submitting, saying that the failure to incorporate a sworn assertion from the alleged sufferer, Brittany Commisso, was hindering the district lawyer’s workplace’s skill to “proceed with a prosecution on these papers.”
Parts of Ms. Commisso’s testimony have been additionally excluded, and Mr. Soares asserted that one a part of the grievance misstated the related regulation.
Mr. Soares described parts of Ms. Commisso’s testimony that weren’t included within the grievance as “exculpatory,” which means that the proof could possibly be favorable to Mr. Cuomo. Consultants cautioned that might imply one thing as slim as a press release being inconsistent.
Mr. Soares, a Democrat, requested the choose, Holly Trexler of Albany Metropolis Court docket, to delay Mr. Cuomo’s arraignment, which had been scheduled for Nov. 17, for 60 days “to cut back the danger of a procedural dismissal of this case” and to present the district lawyer “time to proceed with our unbiased and unbiased overview of the info on this case.”
On Friday, Decide Trexler authorised Mr. Soares’s request and postponed Mr. Cuomo’s arraignment till Jan. 7.
Mr. Soares’s letter underscored how the shock choice final week by the sheriff, Craig Apple, who can be a Democrat, to cost the previous governor with out coordinating with the district lawyer might in the end threaten the case in opposition to Mr. Cuomo. Such coordination is typical in long-term, high-profile regulation enforcement investigations.
Ms. Commisso, a former government assistant to Mr. Cuomo, instructed investigators that he reached beneath her shirt late final yr and groped her breast whereas they have been alone within the Government Mansion in Albany. Mr. Cuomo has denied touching Ms. Commisso inappropriately and his lawyer has repeatedly forged doubt on her model of occasions.
Within the grievance filed by Sheriff Apple, Mr. Cuomo was charged with forcible touching, groping Ms. Commisso “for the needs of degrading and gratifying his sexual needs.”
But the sheriff ’s abrupt choice to cost Mr. Cuomo with a intercourse crime caught Ms. Commisso, Mr. Cuomo and even Mr. Soares off guard. Mr. Soares had not indicated whether or not his workplace meant to prosecute the case and it had been unclear till Friday how the case would proceed.
Sheriff Apple, beneath immense strain, defended his workplace’s choice to maneuver forward final week by insisting that his investigators had performed their very own inquiry and that it was not essential for his workplace to coordinate with the district lawyer on a misdemeanor cost.
Consultants, nevertheless, mentioned it was extremely uncommon for a sheriff’s workplace or a police division to pursue a cost with out consulting with prosecutor who could be liable for prosecuting the case.
Sheriff Apple’s dealing with of the grievance raised issues that the grievance had been botched and led Mr. Cuomo and his allies to accuse the sheriff of being pushed by political motivations.
In his letter to the choose, Mr. Soares mentioned the sheriff’s grievance relied totally on a portion of the testimony Ms. Commisso gave to investigators from the state lawyer basic’s workplace this yr as they scrutinized sexual harassment claims in opposition to Mr. Cuomo.
Mr. Soares wrote that it was “much more troubling” that the sheriff’s filings “excluded different parts of her testimony the place she described the exact same acts described within the grievance.”
The report that resulted from the investigation overseen by the lawyer basic, Letitia James, concluded that Mr. Cuomo had sexually harassed a number of ladies, together with Ms. Commisso, and in the end led to Mr. Cuomo’s resignation in August.