ALBANY, NY — The last of five criminal investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct against former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ended on Monday with the Oswego County district attorney joining his peers in concluding that there were insufficient legal grounds to bring criminal charges.
The district attorney, Gregory S. Oakes, said in a statement that his decision was not a reflection on Virginia Limmiatis, the woman who had come forward, “or how harmful the acts she experienced were.”
Mr. Oakes’s reasoning mirrored similar language used by prosecutors in Albania, Westchester and Nassau Counties, who opened inquiries into separate investigations but declined to prosecute even though they found the women accusing Mr. Cuomo to be credible. Prosecutors in Manhattan have also closed their investigation, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Inquiries conducted by the state attorney general, Letitia James, and the State Assembly found that allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct made by multiple women were credible. Mr. Cuomo, a three-term Democrat, resigned a week after Ms. James’s report was released.
Mr. Cuomo has consistently denied having touched anyone inappropriately.
“As now five DAs have verified, none of the accusations in Tish James’s fraud of a report have stood up to any level of real scrutiny,” Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, said in a statement. “As we’ve said since the beginning, the truth will come out.”
Mariann Wang, a lawyer for Ms. Limmiatis, thanked Mr. Oakes for what she characterized as his careful consideration, adding: “The fact that this matter is not being criminally prosecuted does not mean Cuomo is innocent.”
Ms. Limmiatis was working for National Grid when she encountered Mr. Cuomo at an event in 2017. She investigator tolds for the attorney general’s office that Mr. Cuomo had run his fingers across her chest as he read the name of her company off her shirt. Then, she said, he leaned in close to her cheek.
“I’m going to say I see a spider on your shoulder,” he said, then brushed her chest, she told investigators, adding that the experience left her “profoundly humiliated and appalled.”
Mr. Cuomo and his team have publicly pointed to photographs taken that day. Rita Glavin, a lawyer for Mr. Cuomo, said in a statement that the photos “indisputably showed that Governor Cuomo did not act improperly,” praising the outcome of the Oswego investigation as a triumph of truth over “mob mentality.”
Mr. Cuomo and his team have deounced the attorney general’s report, calling it a political hit job intended to clear the way for Ms. James’s own bid for governor. (Ms. James declared her candidacy for the state’s top job last year, but withdrew after several months, saying that she had more to accomplish as attorney general.)
The Downfall of Andrew Cuomo
The path to resignation. After drawing national praise for his leadership in the early days of the pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was confronted with several scandals that eventually led to his resignation on Aug. 10, 2021. Here is what to know about his political demise:
In recent months, Mr. Cuomo’s team has sharpened its attacks on Ms. James, saying that she deliberately withheld evidence and ignored leads that might have vindicated him.
The attorney general’s office pushed back on Monday, saying that Mr. Cuomo and his lawyer had “made up or missed information to fit their own narrative of events.”
“The findings of this independent investigation have been corroborated by a mountain of evidence, the Assembly’s report, and multiple district attorneys, including the Oswego DA today,” said Delaney Kempner, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office. She added: “Mr. Cuomo’s relentless attacks on these brave women will not mask the truth — he is a serial sexual harasser.”
The dismissal of criminal charges by the five county affirmed prosecutors, even as they blame the accusedrs’ credibility, left many advocates against sexual violence worried about the message that would be sent to victims about coming forward.
Mr. Oakes’s statement went a step beyond the other prosecutors, however, concluding with an unusual appeal to lawmakers.
“This investigation makes clear what victims, their advocates, police and prosecutors have said for years: The current sex offense statutes in New York fail to properly hold offenders accountable,” he said, adding: “Please address this issue.”
Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.