Governor Andrew Cuomo holds press briefing and makes announcement to combat COVID-19 Delta variant in New York, August 2, 2021.
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Andrew Cuomo’s arraignment was postponed Friday until January after the Albany County district attorney told the court that the misdemeanor sex-crime complaint against the former New York governor is “potentially defective.”
The district attorney, David Soares, told the judge in Albany City court that the complaint was “unilaterally and inexplicably filed” in the middle of an investigation by his office, and that it excluded key testimony from the alleged victim.
The complaint was filed in late October, two months after Cuomo resigned as New York’s governor following a damning report from the office of Attorney General Letitia James detailing multiple accusations of sexual harassment from nearly a dozen women. James announced last week that she will run for governor in 2022.
The complaint accused Cuomo, 63, of forcible touching, a Class A misdemeanor. Cuomo could face up to a year in prison, or to up to three years of probation, if convicted.
The former governor was set to be arraigned in the afternoon on Nov. 17. But that initial court appearance was pushed to Jan. 7, after Soares asked for a 60-day adjournment in order to address a number of issues with the case — including that Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple “unilaterally and inexplicably filed a complaint in this Court” in the midst of the DA’s investigation.
“Unfortunately the filings in this matter are potentially defective,” Soares wrote in a letter to Judge Holly Trexler dated Thursday.
Specifically, “the police-officer-complainant failed to include a sworn statement by the victim such that the People could proceed with a prosecution on these papers,” Soares wrote.
“What was included with the complaint was a portion of a transcript of the victim’s statement given in a separate proceeding,” the DA explained, “but that portion excluded an oath, and, even more troubling, excluded other portions of her testimony where she described the very same acts described in the complaint.”
Part of the complaint also “misstates the relevant law,” Soares wrote.
He asked Trexler for the delay in light of the complexity of the case, citing “hundreds of hours of videotaped testimony that must be reviewed and provided to” Cuomo.
The temporary adjournment, Soares wrote, would “reduce the risk of a procedural dismissal of this case.”
Apple told reporters last week that he had also planned for the complaint to be filed at a later date, after he had a chance to talk to Soares and Cuomo’s lawyer.
“We kind of got sandbagged ourselves,” Apple said. “Everything moved too fast … We were expecting the documents to be reviewed. We weren’t expecting a five-minute turnaround.”
But Apple maintained that regardless of the timing issues, “it’s a solid case.”
Soares communications director Cecilia Walsh confirmed that Trexler granted the postponement, but declined CNBC’s request for further comment. An attorney for Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.