New York should pay Cuomo's legal fees in suit, judge rules

FILE - NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York state should pay former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's legal bills as he defends himself against a lawsuit accusing him of sexually harassing a state trooper, a judge ruled Friday.

Cuomo, who resigned in 2021 amid sexual harassment allegations, filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Letitia James in August arguing she violated state law by denying him public assistance for his defense. Cuomo said the trooper's allegations stem from a time when "he was acting within the scope of his employment or duties."

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The unidentified trooper filed a lawsuit last year, asking a federal court to find that Cuomo and others violated her civil rights. She was on Cuomo's security detail and had told investigators he allegedly subjected her to sexual remarks and on occasion ran his hand or fingers across her stomach and her back. The lawsuit seeks damages for "severe mental anguish and emotional distress."

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler said it is for a judge or jury to determine if Cuomo sexually harassed the state trooper, and that his state-funded defense can’t be denied, according to the New York Post.

"From the very beginning, every action Tish James has taken concerning Governor Cuomo has amounted to a politicized abuse of power and every time one of them goes before a court of law, it unravels," Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in a prepared statement.

A spokesperson for the attorney general said in a prepared release that "while we disagree with the judge’s decision, we respect it. We are reviewing the decision and any potential next steps."

Cuomo resigned in August of 2021 after numerous women accused him of sexual harassment, saying he had subjected them to unwanted kisses or touches, made insinuating remarks about their looks and sex lives or created a hostile work environment.

Cuomo has denied all of those allegations.