Monday, December 22, 2008

BREAKING — Tape Shows Monserrate Pulling Girlfriend’s Hair: Sources by Stephen Stirling—

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Authorities have obtained video surveillance that allegedly shows embattled City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst) pulling his girlfriend’s hair outside his apartment early Friday morning just hours before he was charged with assaulting her, sources told the TimesLedger.

City Councilman Hiram Monserrate is led into a police squad car after he was booked at the 105th Precinct on assault, criminal possession of a weapon and harassment charges Friday. Photo by Ellis Kaplan

Monserrate, who was elected to the state Senate in November, was arraigned on assault and criminal possession of a weapon charges Friday evening after authorities said he allegedly broke a drinking glass in his hand and stabbed his girlfriend, 30-year-old Karla Giraldo, in the face. The lacerations required 20 stitches to close, according to the criminal complaint filed by the Queens district attorney.

Monserrate pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment late Friday evening at Queens Criminal Court and released a statement proclaiming his innocence shortly thereafter.

“I have been charged with offenses that I did not commit and am not capable of committing,” he said. “As a son, a brother and a father, these accusations are offensive, and they are crushing on a personal level. Nonetheless, I wholeheartedly look forward to all of the facts being brought to light during this legal process.”

But sources, who declined to be identified, said surveillance footage taken from Monserrate’s apartment building allegedly shows the senator-elect pulling his girlfriend’s hair outside the door of his apartment shortly before he took her to North Shore Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Authorities said Monserrate drove Giraldo, an entertainment writer for a Queens Spanish-language newspaper, to North Shore LIJ — located on the Nassau County border — shortly before 4 a.m. where she received treatment for two lacerations in the vicinity of her left eye.
A doctor at the hospital called police, as is required by state law if domestic violence is suspected, and Monserrate was arrested shortly before 5 a.m.

According to the criminal complaint, Giraldo allegedly told police that after an argument in his apartment between 1 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Monserrate broke a drinking glass in his hand and struck her in the face. Since Monserrate was released on $5,000 bail Friday, both he and Giraldo have stated publicly that the incident was an accident and there were no violent intentions on the part of the councilman.

If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

Monserrate, who planned to give up his Council seat, ran unopposed for former state Sen. John Sabini’s seat in November. He gave a parting speech at City Hall last Thursday during his last day as a councilman and was lauded by his colleagues, including Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan).

During his political career, Monserrate has been an opponent of domestic violence. In 2006, the councilman secured $100,000 to create programs specifically designed to end domestic violence in Queens immigrant communities.

“Today we begin the countdown to the end of domestic violence in our families and communities,” Monserrate said while announcing the funding in November 2006.

He was scheduled to return to court on Jan. 16.

Reporters Nathan Duke, Anna Gustafson, Ivan Pereira and Jeremy Walsh contributed to this article.