A state trooper who was part of Andrew Cuomo’s security detail sued the ex-New York governor in a sexual harassment claim, but the lawsuit was quickly revised on Friday to include Cuomo’s spokesman as a defendant.
The state trooper’s lawsuit claims that Cuomo “used his physical proximity to Trooper 1 to touch her inappropriately,” among other accusations. The trooper, unidentified in the lawsuit, was among the 11 women who accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct in Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation, the results of which ultimately led to his resignation last year.
Cuomo has not been charged with criminal wrongdoing, but there has been the expectation that he would face civil litigation.
After the state trooper filed her lawsuit, represented by the law firm Wigdor LLP, Cuomo’s spokesman, Richard Azzopardi, issued a strongly worded statement on Twitter, noting that authorities found “no violations of law” and saying that “If kissing someone on the cheek, patting someone on the back or stomach or waving hello at a public event on New Year’s Eve is actionable then we are all in trouble.”
He went on to accuse the law firm of using the press “to extort settlements on behalf of ‘anonymous claimants’ — that is un-American and will not happen here.”
Azzopardi was added as a defendant in an amended complaint, which accused him of publishing false statements.
“These bullying tactics by the Governor and his enablers were retaliatory and intended to dissuade the Governor’s victims, including Trooper 1, from pursuing their legal rights,” the complaint stated.
Valdi Licul, partner at the law firm, said in a statement, “The ex-Governor has continued to follow the harasser’s playbook of shaming and attacking his victims by falsely accusing Trooper 1 and our firm of extortion simply because she asserted her legal rights. This behavior is precisely why women are so often afraid to speak out against their harassers and why our client has asked the Court to proceed anonymously in order to protect her safety.”
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in New York, also named another Cuomo aide, Melissa DeRosa, as a defendant. It claims violations of the Constitution’s equal protection clause, as well as New York city and state human rights laws. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
The investigation against Cuomo had far reaching implications, with the fallout leading to the firing of the governor’s brother, Chris Cuomo. A CNN sanctioned investigation of Cuomo also led to the exit of CNN president Jeff Zucker and one of his top lieutenants, Allison Gollust.