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National Opinion: Fish or cut bait: Prosecutors should decide quickly on whether to bring criminal charges against former Gov. Cuomo

National Opinion: Fish or cut bait: Prosecutors should decide quickly on whether to bring criminal charges against former Gov. Cuomo

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

Joyce Smith, the acting Nassau County district attorney, saved incoming DA Anne Donnelly the trouble of dispensing with any prosecution of Andrew Cuomo. Why it took four months to decide that the former governor’s touching of a female state trooper’s midriff was not a crime, we don’t know.

The same for Mimi Rocah, the Westchester DA, who also decided after four months of investigation that Cuomo’s touching (actually a peck on the cheek to the same trooper and a different woman) in that county were not crimes. Impolite, or forward, or even rude, perhaps, but not a violation of the penal law.

That leaves three other district attorneys who all said in August, upon publication of the independent report commissioned by Attorney General Tish James on allegations of Cuomo’s sexual harassment (which caused him to resign), that they were investigating possible criminal incidents in their jurisdictions.

Still unresolved are the probes by Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes and Manhattan DA Cy Vance, who leaves office tomorrow at midnight. Are they going to charge Cuomo with a crime or drop the inquiries, or in Vance’s case, hand it to his successor, Alvin Bragg?

The most significant matter is before Albany DA David Soares, who is dealing with the possible premature complaint brought by the local sheriff on a misdemeanor case of forcible touching against Cuomo, stemming from an allegation by Brittany Commisso that Cuomo groped her breast under her blouse. On Jan. 7, Soares must tell the court and the public if he thinks that there’s a crime that deserves prosecution.

All DAs have a duty to prosecute crimes that occur in their counties. And they have a duty to not to make allegations that they are unwilling to bring in a court of law. Both are very serious obligations and should not be used politically. Cuomo is gone from the governor’s mansion — correctly — but repercussions linger. What also lingers is AG James’ promise to release the rest of the transcripts from the August report.

Copyright 2022 Tribune Content Agency.

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