(Reuters) -A former aide who filed a criminal complaint against New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo last week, alleging that he had groped her, appeared in a television interview on Monday, speaking out publicly for the first time.
Brittany Commisso reported Cuomo to the Albany County sheriff’s office last week, days after an investigation by the state attorney general’s office found she was among 11 women whom the governor had allegedly sexually harassed.
The Democratic governor has denied wrongdoing even as calls for him to resign have grown, including from prominent fellow Democrats such as President Joe Biden.
The state legislature has been conducting its own inquiry into his actions and could decide to impeach him.
The New York State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, which is reviewing the evidence from the state attorney general’s investigation, will issue a recommendation on whether the legislature should proceed with impeaching Governor Cuomo within “several weeks,” Committee Chair Charles Lavine said on Monday.
Commisso, who was identified only as “executive assistant #1” in the report, told CBS News: “The governor needs to be held accountable … What he did to me was a crime. He broke the law.”
Commisso told investigators that Cuomo had fondled her breast in the Executive Mansion in Albany, the capital of New York state, last November.
A lawyer for the governor, Ruth Glavin, told reporters on Friday that Commisso’s account was false, citing emails and other records that she said showed Commisso was not alone with Cuomo on the day in question and never showed any indication that something was amiss.
Craig Apple, the Albany County sheriff, said on Saturday that the allegations, if substantiated, could lead to criminal charges. He said his office and that of the Albany district attorney would oversee a thorough investigation.
In the interview, Commisso also described how Cuomo’s advances grew bolder over time and explained that she was afraid to come forward due to his power.
“People don’t understand – it’s the governor of the state of New York. He is a professional fighter,” she said. “It hasn’t been easy.”
Lavine, chair of the state assembly’s judiciary committee, said on Monday that the committee would hold two executive sessions to discuss its ongoing impeachment inquiry of Cuomo on August 16 and August 23, followed by at least two public hearings, where experts will be called to testify on sexual assault and harassment and the impeachment process itself.
The Committee will recommend whether to impeach Cuomo after fully reviewing the evidence, he said.
“We anticipate that this process will be concluded very soon … and when I say very soon I’m speaking about several weeks,” Lavine told reporters.
Lavine defended the process’ length, saying that lawmakers “owe it to the people in the state of New York” to examine the evidence in the attorney general’s report before moving to impeach.
Support for Cuomo seems to be slipping at a faster pace. On Sunday, a top aide to Cuomo resigned in the wake of the reported allegations.
Prominent litigator Roberta Kaplan, who represented DeRosa, resigned on Monday as chair of anti-bias and harassment group Time’s Up’s board of directors, less than a week after investigators detailed her role in responding to sexual harassment claims against the governor.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie reiterated on Monday that most members of the Democratic-led body have “no confidence in the ability of the governor to remain in office.”
“That’s the universal sentiment that we have,” Heastie said.
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Joseph Ax; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Nick Zieminski)