A former New York State Police trooper who served on then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s security detail and was one of 11 women to accuse him of sexual harassment, has filed a federal lawsuit against the former governor and members of his administration, who the woman said retaliated against her.
“The Governor did not act alone,” the complaint states. “He was enabled by the machinery of the State. Women who had the courage to complain were attacked by a cadre of the Governor’s closest advisors.”
The plaintiff is identified only as “Trooper 1” in the lawsuit. That’s similar to how she was identified in the report filed last August by outside attorneys who conducted an independent investigation ordered by Attorney General Letitia James into harassment claims against Cuomo.
That report led ultimately to Cuomo’s resignation, but the ex-governor and his advisors have been critical of it since its release. They have noted that no prosecutor chose to file charges against Cuomo.
District attorneys, though, have noted they found the accusations credible and could lead to civil cases. An impeachment inquiry led by assembly members in the state legislature also found the claims credible.
The trooper’s complaint said Cuomo demanded she be assigned to his protective unit “after seeing and talking to her for only a few minutes” when she was beside her state police vehicle on a bridge. According to the lawsuit, Cuomo even had the experience requirements changed to make her eligible for the assignment.
She transferred to the unit in January 2018, the suit states.
The complaint details several conversations about relationships the trooper claims Cuomo initiated that made her uncomfortable. But the discussions weren’t the only issue.
In September 2019, the trooper was with Cuomo at Belmont Racetrack on Long Island. She said she walked ahead of him and opened a door at the event. As he passed her, she claims Cuomo placed his open palm on her waist and ran it across.
“Trooper 1 felt violated as the Governor intentionally touched her in intimate locations between her breasts and vagina,” the complaint states.
Also named in the suit was Melissa DeRosa, who served as Cuomo’s secretary to the governor - the top advisory position in the administration, and spokesman Rich Azzopardi.
Among the claims against DeRosa was an allegation she falsely accused the trooper of extortion last November.
In an amended version of the complaint filed Friday, Azzopardi was named one day after the initial filing was made. The amended suit claims he made false statements against her, accusing the trooper of extortion.
In the statement Azzopardi released last week, he said the former governor would “fight every attempt at cheap cash extortions and is anxious to have the dirty politics stop.” The statement also defended some of the behaviors Cuomo made against women, saying that if a pat on the stomach or a kiss on the cheek led to lawsuits, “then we are all in trouble.”
“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 suit states.
On Twitter Friday afternoon, Azzopardi said the “ambulance-chasing hucksters” representing the trooper did not scare him.
The trooper is represented by lawyers from the New York City firm Wigdor Law LLP.
“This is clearly protected free speech that is supported by actual facts,” he posted. “And while I'm no lawyer, there is no way this thing against me is not going to get laughed out of court.”