In a Times Union, one of those women, previously known only as Executive Assistant #1 is breaking her silence.released last week by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is accused of sexually harassing 11 women. In an exclusive interview with “CBS This Morning” and the
Brittany Commisso began working as an executive assistant in the governor’s office in 2017. Now, she is speaking publicly for the first time since filing aagainst Cuomo last week — just days after the attorney general’s report was released.
“To me this was a dream job. And it unfortunately turned into a nightmare,” she said.
Commisso was not the first woman to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Cuomo, but she is listed first in the attorney general’s report. She believes this is because of the seriousness of her allegations.
“I believe that my story appears first due to the nature of the inappropriate conduct that the governor did to me,” Commisso said. “I believe that he groped me, he touched me, not only once, but twice.”
Commisso, now 32, alleges that the governor groped her for the first time on December 31, 2019. She said that she was at the governor’s mansion that night to help Cuomo with his upcoming State of the State address. According to Commisso, after finishing her draft of the speech, Cuomo suggested the two of them take a selfie together.
“He was to my left. I was on the right. With my right hand, I took the selfie,” she said. “I then felt while taking the selfie, his hand go down my back onto my butt, and he started rubbing it. Not sliding it. Not, you know, quickly brushing over it — rubbing my butt.”
Commisso said this made her so nervous that her hands began to shake, making it difficult for her to even take the picture.
“I was embarrassed,” she said. “Not only embarrassed for what was going on, I was embarrassed that a governor wanted a selfie and I couldn’t take it. I was so nervous. I remember looking at them, and when he said, ‘can I see them?’ I showed him them. And he said, ‘Oh, those aren’t – those aren’t good.'”
Cuomo then, according to Commisso, suggested the two try again on the couch. A suggestion that she said she accepted because she thought he would no longer be able to touch her rear end if she were sitting down.
“So we sat down on the couch and in the photo I have my arm wrapped around his shoulder, almost as if we were taking a picture with a buddy. And I got a clear photo sitting down,” Commisso said. “And that is the one that has been blurred out that has been now released to the public.”
Cuomo has denied that he ever touched Commisso inappropriately, including when they took the selfie.
Commisso alleges that Cuomo groped her a second time at the governor’s mansion in November 2020. She claims that, during this encounter, Cuomo hugged her in a “sexually aggressive manner.”
“It was then that I said, you know, governor, you know, you’re — my words were ‘you’re going to get us in trouble.’ And I thought to myself, that probably wasn’t the best thing to say,” Commisso said.
Commisso claims she was afraid a staffer might walk in and get the wrong idea, but that after she said that, Cuomo “shut the door so hard to the point where I thought for sure, someone downstairs must think if they heard that, ‘what is going on?'”
It was then that Commisso claims the governor groped her a second time.
“He came back to me and that’s when he put his hand up my blouse and cupped my breast over my bra,” she said. “I exactly remember looking down, seeing his hand, which is a large hand, thinking to myself, ‘Oh, my God. This is happening.'”
“It happened so quick, he didn’t say anything. When I stopped it, he just pulled away and walked away.”
Commisso described Cuomo’s behavior that night as “almost as if he was in a sexually aggressive state of mind. I really don’t know how to explain the moment. It was, it was – I don’t have the words. I don’t have the words.”
Cuomo has denied this accusation as well, saying, “”to touch a woman’s breasts, who I hardly know, in the mansion with 10 staff around, with my family in the mansion, to say, ‘I don’t care who sees us.’ I would have to lose my mind to do such a thing.”
Commisso called the governor’s response “disgusting.”
“I know the truth. He knows the truth. I know what happened and so does he,” she said. “I don’t believe that there were 10 staff there that day. I don’t believe his family was there that day. And if that’s what he has to say to make himself feel better, I really, I feel sorry for him.”
Commisso said she never planned on going public with her allegations, partly because she was worried about what might happen to her daughter. But everything changed a few months later when she saw Cuomo deny accusations of sexual harassment during a press conference in March 2021 and heard him say that he “never touched anyone inappropriately.”
“He almost has this smirk that he thinks that he’s untouchable,” Commisso said. “I almost feel like he has this sense of almost a celebrity status and it just — that was the tipping point. I broke down. I said ‘He is lying.'”
“I felt like he was personally saying it to me that ‘I never touched anyone inappropriately,'” Commisso explained. “And, yes, you did.”
Commisso said that after watching his denial she “broke down” and told two coworkers “a little bit.”
Commisso also apologized to Cuomo’s other accusers for not coming forward and telling her own story sooner.
“I hope that the other women understand and that I’ve seen them and I support them. And I thank them, because without them, I don’t know if I would have come forward.”
“I was afraid that if I had come forward, and revealed my name, that the governor and his ‘enablers’ I like to call them would viciously attack me, would smear my name as I had seen and heard them do before to people,” she said.
Commisso also explained that she wanted to protect her daughter, saying, “I didn’t want her to have to deal with anything that came along with this.”
“And, but then I also — after a couple of months and processing this whole thing, I do want her to know that she has a voice,” Commisso said. “I never want her to be afraid to speak. I never want her to be afraid of any person in power, a man or a woman.”
In addition to the two groping allegations, Commisso also claimed that the governor would hug her inappropriately and that he kissed her on the lips without her consent.
“These were not hugs that he would give his mother or his brother,” Commisso said. “These were hugs with the intention of getting some personal sexual satisfaction out of. Then they started to be hugs with kisses on the cheek. Then there was at one point a hug, and then when he went to go kiss me on the cheek, he quickly turned his head and he kissed me on the lips.”
Commisso said that she did not consider any of this behavior normal or acceptable.
“Maybe to him, he thought this was normal. But to me and the other women that he did this to, well, it was not normal,” she said. “It was not welcomed. And it was certainly not consensual.”
Cuomo has denied kissing Commisso.
Commisso also denied the governor’s claim that he only hugged her on multiple occasions because she initiated the contact and he didn’t want to make her feel awkward.
“That is not true. I would never on my own get up and initiate a hug with the governor,” she insisted. Asked if Cuomo was lying, Commisso replied, “Yes. 100%.”
Commisso also brushed aside the governor’s suggestion that his accusers were misinterpreting his actions.
“There’s a difference between being an affectionate and warm person. Sexual harassment is completely different,” she said. “The governor knows that what he did to me and what he did to these 10 other women, whether it be a comment or an actual physical contact, was sexual harassment. He broke the laws that he himself created.”
Commisso said that she filed a criminal complaint because “it was the right thing to do. The governor needs to be held accountable.”
“What he did was a crime,” she said. “He broke the law.”
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said on Saturday that his office will undertake a criminal investigation based on Commisso’s complaint. He said that the governor could face a misdemeanor charge or “possibly a couple.”
Commisso ended the interview by pleading with the governor to heed his own words.
“There was a speech that he gave less than a month ago, and in his speech, he said, ‘If you give New Yorkers the truth and you give New Yorkers the facts, the good, the bad, the ugly, they will do the right thing.’ I would say, Governor, this is the truth. These are the facts. And it’s your turn to do the right thing. And that right thing is to resign and to tell the truth.”
Cuomo has denied all claims of sexual harassment and has thus far resisted calls for his resignation from his fellow Democrats, including. He has until the end of this week to submit evidence in his defense in connection with a State Assembly .