Background and Overview
Brittany Commisso is “Executive Assistant #1 in the AG’s report and “Ms. X” in the Position Statement, but she has since revealed her identity. She started to work for Cuomo in the Executive Chamber as an Administrative Assistant in 2019. Commisso is a close friend of another accuser, Alyssa McGrath since high school. They are in fact so close that McGrath was listed as Commisso’s emergency contact at work.
Commisso claims Cuomo groped her in December 2019 and November 2020. There are no witnesses, no evidence, and she never mentioned it to anyone, including her best friend until March 3, 2021. She provided different versions on different occasions, which were inconsistent with the evidence and other witness statements, and she contradicted herself repeatedly.
Commisso has a clear financial motive. She told Cuomo in late 2020 she was going through a divorce which created financial pressure. She spoke in late 2020 and early 2021 to her supervisors asking for a raise and more overtime hours on weekends. Her husband filed for divorce summons with notice are recorded at Albany County Clerk on February 22, 2021, with Brittany Commisso as a defendant, 9 days before she started her allegations. On March 9, the lawyer contacted the Executive Chamber saying that he planned to file an administrative complaint on her behalf and that Commisso would not pursue the matter criminally. This indicates she was looking for a financial settlement and/or judgment.
Breast Grope November/December 2020
Commisso alleges that in late 2020, Cuomo hugged her, reached under her blouse, and grabbed her breast in the Executive Mansion. She first claimed this happened on November 16, 2020. Commisso claims that after she finished her assignment in Cuomo’s office, he hugged her. According to her testimony, the door was open, so she said “You’re going to get us in trouble”. He replied “I don’t care”, slammed the door shut, slid his hand under her blouse, and grabbed her breast over her bra. She said, “You’re crazy”. He stopped and she left without further exchange, went to her car, and headed back to the Capitol.
3 different dates: After the AG report was released on August 3, 2021, Cuomo’s lawyer presented evidence showing that the alleged incident could have not happened on that date. She then gave another date to the Times Union which proved impossible. On October 28, 2021, an investigator for Albany County Sheriff Apple filed criminal charges against Cuomo in Albany City Court for this incident, establishing December 7, 2020, as the new date of this alleged “forcible touching”.
November 4, 2021, District Attorney David Soares sent a letter to the Albany City Court calling the complaint the Sheriff “unilaterally and inexplicably” filed “potentially defective” and excluded portions of Commisso’s testimony that were of “exculpatory nature”. Letter Page#1 and Page#2.
November 10, 2021, AG James released Commisso’s testimony, which revealed that Brittany Commisso wore a long winter coat while she was allegedly groped. This crucial fact was discussed during the testimony and omitted by the AG and her investigators in the report.
Commisso testified that she wore a coat and specifically points out that she didn’t take it off because she was going back to the office. Then the investigators start asking questions about her coat because wearing a coat doesn’t fit her narrative of Cuomo sliding his hand “instantly” and in “.2 seconds” under her blouse. Commisso describes her coat as a long winter coat with a zipper and a belt. She and the investigators realize that this makes her story even more incredible, and Commisso is led (unsuccessfully) by the investigators in an attempt to “fix” it and make the narrative work. Finally, after asking about details of her blouse, they stop saying “it’s fine” before she can make it worse and omit this whole crucial part of her testimony and the fact that she wore a coat completely.
Selfie with Butt Grope December 2019
Commisso’s second claim is that on December 31, 2019, Cuomo asked her to take a selfie with him, during which he rubbed and grabbed her butt for at least 5 seconds. As evidence, she submitted the photo below which was taken AFTER the alleged incident. Commisso claims that she took several photos before during which it happened, but that she deleted them because they were blurry. They, therefore, sat down to take the photo below. In her testimony on May 17, 2021, she claimed she deleted them because she didn’t want Cuomo to see how shaky and nervous she was. In her CBS interview on August 9, 2021, she said that she did show him the blurry pictures and he said “those aren’t good” and to take new ones.
Clip is edited. Pauses, fillers, irrelevant comments were removed. Full video testimony available at OAG website.
Commisso claims Cuomo told her to send the picture to McGrath but not to share it with anyone else. Commisso stated she thought he wanted to make McGrath jealous to see her reaction. Commisso sent the selfie to her friend McGrath when still next to Cuomo. McGrath’s response: “Um where is my pic!! I’m officially jealous!!! I need to be photoshopped into the right of him 🤣 Love this so much” (see below). When asked why she wrote this, she explains “I felt like I needed to say that considering she was with him and he wanted — he asked that it be sent to me.” When asked how she knew this, she responds “I knew after the fact when she told me.” (Commisso allegedly called her after she left the mansion). The investigator who catches this lie should raise a huge red flag but lets her get away with it, McGrath is considered credible in the AGs report.
Clip is edited. Pauses, fillers, irrelevant comments were removed. Full video testimony available at OAG website.
It also appears that Commisso either photo-shopped the picture or used a filter. Both her and Cuomo’s forehead wrinkles are clearly smoothened out / significantly reduced and his hairline moved back by doing so. This is inconsistent with the narrative that she was nervously shaking and sent the photo to McGrath in real-time.
Cuomo testified that he does not like to take selfies. He also stated that the photo had been taken at her request and that he had asked her not to share it. He testified that it was Commisso who wanted to send it to McGrath to make her jealous.
Hugs and other Allegations
At the annual holiday party in 2019, Cuomo took a picture with Commisso and her friend McGrath. He kissed one on the forehead, one on the cheek. He “posed for [the] photograph with his hands firmly around both women’s ribcages, just below their breasts” (in other words, their waists, the normal place for a hand in pictures such as these). A similar picture was taken in 2018.
According to a witness statement, Commisso and McGrath were the ones who wanted the picture taken (2019) and were proud of these photos. AG report p. 20, fn#123. Screenshot. This statement was hidden in a footnote of the report.
Commisso claims Cuomo also hugged her on other occasions when she was leaving and attempted to kiss her. Cuomo testified that he did hug her, but that she was the initiator, and he went along to avoid her feeling awkwardly. He denies ever kissing her on the lips as she claims. (AG report p. 20-21). She also claims that Cuomo said things like she “looked good for [her] age and [for] being a mother,” “It’s about time that you showed some leg”, “If you were single, the things I would do to you”. (AG report p. 17-18). There are no witnesses and Cuomo denies all of these conversations. Early in 2020, when McGrath and Commisso assisted the governor in preparing the “State of the State” books, they told Cuomo about planning a trip to Florida in April. Cuomo testified that he called them “mingle mamas” in response to Commisso and McGrath saying that they were “single and ready to mingle”. During this conversation Commisso told Cuomo that she would visit an old boyfriend in Florida and that she also had a boyfriend in Saratoga, a detail omitted in the report. (Screenshot from Submission to AG, p 88).
Brittany Commisso’s allegations of being groped are not credible. She has provided several variations of her breast groping story that differ significantly in what happened when it happened, and why she was in the Mansion (see details further below). The fact that she wore a long winter coat when she was in the office – which was omitted by AG James – is exculpatory evidence and disproves her story.
Her selfie story is incongruent with facts and is nonsensical. The selfie was taken on Commisso’s phone, indicating that she was the initiator. If Cuomo wanted the photo or wanted to exercise power, he would have used his phone. If he was doing anything inappropriate, he would not leave a photo of it as evidence on the phone of his “victim”. In her CBS interview, Commisso claimed that after the butt grope they sat down on the couch, where she felt safer, when in fact it puts her in a more vulnerable position. She then made it a priority to delete blurry photos and photoshop or filter the remaining one while sitting next to her “assailant”. She told two contradictory stories about the reason she deleted the blurry photos which would have been evidence. Her text message exchange with McGrath indicates that they considered the matter entertaining and desirable. McGrath lied about these text messages. Lastly, the photo itself clearly contradicts her story. She has her hand around his neck, resting on his shoulder, leans her head against him, and smiles confidently, happily, and like she just won a prize. Cuomo looks – understandably as this was the time of holiday events, speeches, and most importantly preparing for the State of the State speech – tired and beaten up. If there is any victim on this photo, it is not Commisso.
The party photos serving as “evidence” show two women who are squeezing themselves against their “abuser”. The accusation that he had his hands around their ribcages “below” their breasts is absurd. This is the only place he could place his hands, otherwise he would “grope” their butts or breasts. None of this is evidence of any wrongdoing on Cuomo’s side.
Commisso has a financial motive, and the timing of her allegations is connected with her divorce and financial issues. For more details see further below. She is generally described as a bubbly, outgoing person. Most notable is Stephanie Benton’s testimony:
She was kind of like starry-eyed high school kid with her like she was a little bit star-struck. But she very much wanted to get to him when she could […] I heard her say “Italians are very affectionate people.” […] She would come into the office, you know, with a cup of coffee that no one had asked for, try to walk right back there with it […] there is no one else who I can think of who in this, with this example, ever brought him an unsolicited coffee.
Timing of Commisso’s Allegations
Commisso told Cuomo in or around November that because she was going through a divorce she needed a different work schedule. She told him the divorce created financial pressure. She spoke in late 2020 and early 2021 to her supervisors about having to leave early,. She asked for a raise and more overtime hours on weekends. They denied the raise and made no other promises. Her husband filed for divorce, and a summons with notice is recorded at Albany County Clerk on February 22, 2021, with Brittany Commisso as the defendant.
On March 3, 2021, Commisso started her allegations, after she and her coworkers watched Cuomo’s press conference when he said he never touched any woman inappropriately. She then became “visibly emotional” and told two other assistants (#2 and #3) “about inappropriate conversations with the Governor and that he had touched her.”
Three days later, on March 6, 2021 (a Saturday), Commisso was on duty for the weekend shift, but Stephanie Benton called another assistant to the Executive Mansion to work that day. Both Cuomo and Benton testified that the other assistant (#3) was better at dictation and typing.
On that same day, Commisso was at a birthday party for her friend McGrath. There she learned that Benton had called EA#3 instead of her. Only then did she tell EA#2, who was also at the party, that Cuomo had groped her breast. The next day, March 7, Commisso met with EA#2 and EA#3 and retained a personal injury lawyer, which indicates she was looking for a monetary award in a civil lawsuit.
On March 8, EA#2 and #3 reported the incident to the governor’s counsel, who relayed the information to the AG’s office and GOER, the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. The Governor’s Counsel Judith Mogul testified that Commisso told them that Cuomo “had forcefully thrown her up against the wall and put his hand under her shirt and felt her breast.” (Screenshot from AG report, fn#214, p#31). The Special Counsel took notes of that call, contemporaneous evidence that the Report did not include, but which was provided by Rita Glavin in her Submission on October 20, 2021. In her notes, the Counsel wrote: “pushed her up against wall – hands up shirt – touched breast – kissed her”. (Screenshot).
On March 9, the lawyer contacted the Executive Chamber and said that he planned to file an administrative complaint on her behalf and that Commisso would not pursue the matter criminally. This indicates she was looking for a financial settlement and/or judgment. Nonetheless, Acting Counsel referred the matter to the Albany Police Department on March 10.
On March 9 and March 10, 2021, Times Union reported that according to an anonymous source an unnamed current female employee (Commisso) accused Cuomo of groping her at the Governor’s mansion. Although Commisso claims she felt shocked by the articles, she later gave TU an interview with more details (still anonymously), published on April 7, 2021.
On August 3, 2021, after the report was published, Cuomo’s attorney provided a timeline disproving that Cuomo groped Commisso on November 16, as stated in the report. On August 5, Brittany Commisso filed a criminal complaint at the Sheriff’s Office (instead of the Police Department), 10 days before she had her next court date regarding her divorce. From this testimony it seems quite obvious that the Governor is – along with the couple’s daughter – used as a pawn in their divorce, fight over custody and money. On page 190 Commisso also testified that she is not getting child support from her husband. The selfie with Commisso was published with the report, which might have escalated the divorce situation and triggered the sudden criminal complaint.
Commisso’s Variations of the alleged Breast Groping
Report by Executive Assistants #2 and #3, March 8, 2021:
The Governor pushed her / threw her aginst the wall, put his hand under his shirt, touched her breast and kissed her. (Screenshot from AG report, fn#214, p#31, and Screenshot from Rita Glavin’s Submission).
Times Union Interview, April 7, 2021:
It was a weekday in late November. Her task was to help with a technical issue with his mobile phone. When she reached his office on the 2nd floor, he came out from his desk and began groping her. (Screenshot). She said “You’re going to get us in trouble” because the door was open and she was afraid “that a woman who works here is going to come in and see”. He slammed the door shut and said “I don’t care” (she was thinking about the staff downstairs hearing it). He walked toward her a second time and pulled her close. He reached under her blouse grasping one of her breasts over her bra. She said “you’re crazy” and he stopped. He didn’t say anything. She walked out and he walked “back into his office”.
Testimony according to AG Report:
It was around the day she was was tasked with taking a photo of a document. The date was established as November 16 based on photo and state records. After finishing her assignment pulled her in for a close hug. She stepped away and said “you’re going to get us in trouble” (because the door was open). He said: “I don’t care” and slammed the door shut. He then returned and slid his hand up her blouse, grabbed her breast over her bra. She said “you’re crazy” and pulled away. Neither of them said anything and she walked out.
Times Union Article, August 9, 2021:
Commisso had “told the Times Union in a series of interviews in March and April that the alleged groping incident took place on a workday later that month, possibly around Nov. 25.”
Note: Rita Glavin had already pointed out that according state records November 16 was the only day in November that Commisso was in the Mansion. Additionally, on November 25, Cuomo was 225 miles away in Rochester holding a briefing around noon, and then giving out turkeys.
The task is now specified as assisting him “how to text a note from his iPhone to Benton”. The sequence also changed from groping upon arrival (April version) to happening after she sent the text to Benton and called her from Cuomo’s phone to confirm receipt of the text. He then came out from behind his desk and began groping her.
Note: As per Rita Glavin’s Submission from October 20, 2021, records show that no call was made as Commisso claims after sending the text.
Times Union Article, October 11, 2021:
Subpoenaed records indicate the incident took place in early December as opposed to November, as “erroneously proffered in a report by investigators with the state attorney general’s office”. Lyons claims that after Commisso told TU and the investigators the groping had occurred “around or after Nov. 16 […] she later told the Times Union that the incident had occurred weeks later”.
Note: In her Submission to the AG on October 20, 2021, Rita Glavin established that the only day Commisso was in the Mansion was December 7, 2020, which was also the day the Sheriff’s office claimed the incident happened between 3.51 pm and 4.07 pm.
Commisso Testimony Pages 141 – 143:
“I remember going up to his office. I remember having my coat on, it was November, it was cold. I remember just being told to go in there and literally take whatever he had on his notes app and to put it into his text messages and send it to Stephanie. So I wasn’t expecting to stay there long.”
[He gives her the phone, she copy-pastes the text and sends it].
Page 142: “I gave him his phone back and I think he said why don’t you take your coat off or something, and I said well, I’m okay, I have to go back to the office. I think I asked him are you all set. Do you need anything. Maybe he had a letter or dictation that he wanted to do, and he said no, that’s it. And I said okay I’m going back to the office.” […] I remember him getting up and going around his desk and I remember thinking to myself, okay, he is going to give me a hug”.
Page 143: I remember him coming around and it was instantly […] he really pulled me and I remember his hand just sliding right up my blouse. And I remember looking down and I remember seeing his hand […] over my bra […] this just like went from zero to 60 in .2 seconds. It was so fast.” [She steps back, reminds him the door is open and says he will get them in trouble, he says “I don’t care”, slams the door shut, comes back, says again “I don’t care”, pulls her back in, she says “you are crazy” and pulls away, nobody says anything, she leaves].
Commisso Testimony Pages 146 – 149:
Q. Let me ask you a few questions about that. You said when you went in, you had your coat on. What did your coat look like?
A. It was a black coat, a black long winter coat.
Q. Did it have a zipper or wrap or buttons, how was it fastened?
A. I believe it was my black coat that has a zipper on it and I think it has a belt with it too.
Q. When you went in, were you zipped and belted up?
A. I believe that I think what I had done was I had taken it off when I sat down, when he said — I think I did take off my coat, he was like no, take your coat off, I did take off my coat. I remember that is when I put it back on but I didn’t zipper it back up. I just put it back on.
Q. At what point did you put it back you on?
A. I believe when I stood up to leave.
Q. I want to make sure that I got this straight. He said take your coat off.
Q. You took your coat off?
A. I remember at first no, I’m okay and he said no, you can take your coat off and I said okay. And I took my coat off. I remember now I that if I recall correctly when I went to leave and stood back up I just put my coat back on, but I don’t believe I zippered it.
Q. You put it back up before he came around and groped you; is that right?
A. Yes, I definitely had my coat on me.
Q. You said you were wearing a blouse, what did your blouse look like?
A. I remember my blouse, I don’t remember exactly which color it was though. I definitely remember wearing a blouse that when you looked down you could see the top of my bra. I remember seeing — I was wearing a black bra and I could see my black bra cup. It was definitely a blouse that it wasn’t low cut, but I could definitely see his hand underneath it.
Q. Was that a blouse that you were wearing on top? Was it buttoned up? I’m trying to get a better picture of it.
A. It was untucked.
Q. Was it a blouse that had buttons up the front or just no buttons and he came up from underneath?
A. Yes, there was no buttons. I apologize, I don’t remember the actual specifics of the material.
Q. That’s fine. […]
Failings of the Investigators and AG James
The investigators established the breast groping incident took place on November 16 based on a photo. This was wrong. Commisso stated that the incident happened “around” the day she was tasked to take a photo of the document. The photo she provided was dated November 16th. Blackberry PIN messages used by the Protective Services Unit to announce visitors confirmed that Commisso was there on November 16, 2020. After the AG announced the findings of her result and published the report, Rita Glavin provided a detailed timeline of activities on November 16, 2020, which shows that the incident could not have happened that day. See the complete timeline from Cuomo’s Position Statement, p. 17-19). Records also show that several people were at the Mansion, including Ms. Benton, Ms. DeRosa, and Peter Ajemian, none of whom were asked about what they heard or saw that day, as one would expect in a real investigation.
The report fails to note that it was the Executive Chamber that alerted the Albany Police Department and instead misleadingly states that “criminal authorities […] have been alerted to the most egregious allegations”. Furthermore, Commisso did not agree to an interview with the Albany Police Department. Only after Cuomo’s attorney pointed out the evidence refuting the Report’s findings regarding Ms. Commisso did she file a criminal complaint with the Albany County Sheriff on August 9, 2021.
The report fails to mention that Commisso wore a long winter coat while allegedly being groped. During her testimony, the investigators discuss the issue with her in detail and try to lead her to resolve this discrepancy.
The investigators ignored McGrath’s lie when she explains her text message which contradicts the narrative. They ignored Commisso’s financial motive. They ignored that the selfie was photoshopped.