ALBANY, N.Y. (WETM) – The future of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is uncertain as the state’s Attorney General’s findings pave the way for a possible criminal investigation after an independent report found credible accusations the governor sexually assaulted nearly a dozen women.
As a result of the Attorney General’s findings, District Attorney’s in Albany, Nassau, Westchester and Manhattan have launched criminal probes into the governor’s alleged actions.
“As this matter is developing and we are reviewing the document released by the Attorney General today, we will refrain from any additional public comment at this time regarding the status of the ongoing criminal investigation by our office,” Albany County District Attorney David Soares said in a Tweet.
According to legal experts and New York State law, workplace harassment is seldom considered illegal, though a criminal case can take place if touching is “forcible.”
“Workplace harassment could include treating someone badly being mean [and] generally, that’s not illegal,” Sexual Harassment Attorney Rick Ostrove at Leeds Brown Law said. “It only becomes illegal when somebody engages in that behavior because of another person’s status in a protected class. For example, their gender, their age, their race, their national origin, their religion or their sexual orientation.”
Because the investigation is also criminal in nature, the 11 women who accused Cuomo of sexual harassment can also file a lawsuit and potentially receive compensation in the form of financial loss or emotional damages.
“Punitive damages can [also] be awarded to an individual for inappropriate conduct,” Ostrove said. ” And here you have situations that are fairly egregious especially given who they came from.”
Cuomo also took part in “Sexual Harassment Training” while in office. Legal experts tell 18News this could add to the criminal case.
“Having taken the training, it puts the governor in a position where he might be subjected to punitive damages even more than he otherwise would have,” Ostrove said.