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A district attorney in upstate New York dropped the last of five criminal probes into former Gov. Andrew Cuomo over allegations of sexual misconduct and implored the state legislature to change the sexual harassment statutes.
Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes released a statement Monday explaining that while there is “not a sufficient legal basis to bring criminal charges” against Cuomo for allegedly touching Virginia Limmiatis inappropriately at a public event, the decision is not a reflection of Limmiatis’ reliability.
“In no way should this decision be interpreted as casting doubt upon the character or credibility of Ms. Limmiatis, or how harmful the acts she experienced were,” said Oakes, who also described Limmiatis as “reliable and reasonable.”
Oakes went on to criticize the sex offense statutes in New York, saying the investigation into Cuomo has shown that they “fail to properly hold offenders accountable and fail to adequately protect victims.”
“If justice is to ever be obtained for the countless victims who are sexually abused and harassed in this state each day, the law must be revised and reformed to reflect the lived experiences of victims. I implore legislative leadership in both the NYS Senate and Assembly to please address this issue, or else victims will continue to be denied the justice that they deserve,” Oakes wrote.
Limmiatis alleged that Cuomo touched her chest inappropriately and then whispered in her ear “to make up a patently ridiculous excuse to cover up his behavior,” according to a Monday statement from her lawyer, Mariann Wang. Limmiatis was left “disturbed and upset” by the incident and reportedly told several people about it, but did not publicly report him because she was afraid of him because he was the governor.
“Not every violation of law results in a criminal prosecution,” said Wang. “This decision does not mean Cuomo acted appropriately or lawfully towards Ms. Limmiatis or any of the other women who came forward, or that he didn’t cause them significant harm.”
In December, the district attorney’s office in Westchester County, New York, issued a similar announcement that Cuomo will not be criminally charged for two sexual misconduct allegations against him, despite “credible evidence” that such events occurred.
Last summer, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed the report that accused Cuomo of sexually harassing 11 women from 2013 to 2020 in violation of state and federal law.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.