Monserrate Sworn In, Still Under Suspicion
by Jeffrey Harmatz
Jan 14, 2009 | 2611 views | 0 0 comments | 98 98 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former Councilman Hiram Monserrate was sworn into office as a State Senator representing the 13th Senatorial District, succeeding the recently resigned John Sabini. Monserrate takes office under a cloud of suspicion surrounding a recent arrest and felony criminal charges related to the hospitalization of his girlfriend in December.

Monserrate was charged with second-degree assault after his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, checked into Long Island Jewish Hospital with a laceration to her face. Monserrate drove Giraldo to the hospital, and was with her when she checked in. It was there that he was arrested and taken to Queens County Criminal Court, where he was arraigned and released on $5,000 bail.

The charges allege that Monserrate and Giraldo were arguing at around 1 a.m. on December 19 at Monserrate’s Jackson Heights apartment, at which time he smashed a glass in his hand before using it to hit Giraldo in the face. Giraldo sustained a black eye and cuts above her left eye, which required 20 stitches to close.

Though she reportedly complied with initial questioning by hospital staff and the NYPD, Giraldo has since refused to press charges and denied any wrongdoing on the part of Monserrate. In the Spanish-language press, her family has come out in support of Monserrate, saying that he has only ever treated her with kindness and respect.

Shortly after the incident, Monserrate released a statement in which he refuted the charges of domestic violence.

“As the result of an unfortunate accident involving myself and someone whom I care for deeply and love, I have been charged with offenses that I did not commit and am not capable of committing,” read the statement. “As a son, a brother, and a father, these accusations are offensive and they are crushing on a personal level. Nonetheless, I whole-heartedly look forward to all of the facts being brought to light during this legal process.”

In interviews following the arrest, he explained that the cuts were the result of taking a fall while bringing a Giraldo a glass of water in an elevated bed at his apartment. Since the incident, the New York Daily News reported that the police have security video taken in Monserrate’s apartment building that shows the couple angrily fighting shortly before the incident is believed to have occurred, as well as Giraldo’s bloody exit from the building.

Monserrate is due back in court on Friday, January 16, which is a week-and-a-half after he was sworn in as a member of the State Senate. Several domestic violence organizations and community leaders have taken issue with the fact that he was sworn in while the assault charges hang over his head.

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith issued his support for Monserrate despite the charges, though several legislators, many on the State Senate, felt that the charges should have been addressed in court before he was sworn in. State Senator Martin Golden of Brooklyn proposed a Senate resolution that would have prevented Monserrate from taking office until the charges were cleared.

If convicted, Senator Monserrate would be required to resign from his position and would face up to seven years in prison.

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