A female New York State Trooper who accused ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexually harassing her on Long Island filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming he retaliated against her for making the allegations.
The plaintiff, identified only as Trooper 1, filed suit in Brooklyn federal court alleging Cuomo groped her and repeatedly made inappropriate sexual comments that made her feel uncomfortable. The trooper said he subjected her to unwanted touching at Belmont Racetrack in Elmont and made comments to her at Republic Airport in Farmingdale and Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, among other places.
“Given the threats and victim-shaming that Trooper 1 has faced after she testified truthfully about being sexually harassed in the workplace by the former governor, she has made the decision to proceed with this lawsuit anonymously with the hope that she can vindicate her legal rights and move on with her life,” her attorney, Valdi Licul, a partner at the Manhattan-based law firm of Wigdor LLP, said in a statement. “We will not be deterred by the ex-governor’s bullying tactics. He is only making his legal problems worse by lashing out at his victim with false and defamatory statements intended to further retaliate against her.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James gave Trooper 1 the moniker in a bombshell August report detailing 11 women’s allegations that prompted the governor’s resignation. In December, then-Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith was one of five local prosecutors who declined to charge Cuomo. Smith said that her office “found the allegations credible, deeply troubling, but not criminal under New York law.”
The trooper claimed in court documents that the governor personally requested that she be assigned to the Protective Service Unit — the division of the New York State Police that protects the governor — after briefly meeting her and arranged for the requirements to be lowered from three years of service to two so that she could qualify for the assignment. The Albany Times Union, which first reported last summer that the governor allegedly used his influence to get close to Trooper 1, described the unnamed plaintiff as a Long Island native.
In the Belmont incident, she alleged that in 2019 the governor “ran the palm of his left hand across her stomach in the opposite direction that he was walking. The center of the governor’s hand was on Trooper No. 1’s belly button, and he pushed his hand back to her right hip where she kept her gun.” She told investigators that she felt violated.
On March 5, 2020, while she was greeting the governor at Republic Airport, when he approached her to hug and kiss her, she tried to deter him by asking, “You don’t have Covid, do you?”
In the most recent incident, on June 27, 2021, after Cuomo landed at Grabeski for a private event, he commented on her looks — in this case, her sunglasses — which Trooper 1 described as part of a pattern and included him suggesting she wear a dress instead of a police uniform.
“Look at you with your glasses looking like ohwee,” the governor allegedly said to her, “meaning he thought she was attractive in her sunglasses,” the lawsuit states.
Trooper 1 said in the court filings that she was afraid to decline the governor’s requests for kisses because she had heard “horror stories about people getting kicked off the detail or transfer[red] over like little things.” After the allegations became public, Cuomo’s representatives have suggested perjury and witness tampering may involved. He also threatened to file ethics complaints against investigators involved in the report that ended his political career.
A Democrat who ran New York Statefor a decade, Cuomo denied touching anyone inappropriately and said his efforts to be a friendly boss may have been misinterpreted as flirtation. A spokesman for the 64-year-old former governor, Rich Azzopardi, said on Twitter that the law firm representing the trooper was “widely known to use the press to extort settlements on behalf of anonymous claimants.”
In response to Azzopardi’s statement, the firm filed an amended complaint alleging the spokesman is also retaliating against Trooper 1.
“Trooper 1 will not be bullied into silence by Cuomo or his enablers,” Licul said. “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 trooper also accused a longtime aide to Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa, of helping cover up the governor’s misdeeds. A lawyer for DeRosa said on Twitter that the aide had had little interaction with the trooper and called the lawsuit “beyond frivolous.” The state police are also named in the lawsuit.