A former New York City police officer was convicted Wednesday of sexually abusing two women after offering to help line up after-school activities for their children, part of a series of cases accusing him of using his badge as a tool to victimize women.
Trading on the trust he engendered as a community affairs officer, Wilfredo Rosario struck up conversations with the two women to get their phone numbers and addresses, found them again and maneuvered them into encounters in which he groped them against their will, the women testified.
"It's an offensive crime that tears at, frankly, the relationship between the police and the public," state Supreme Court Justice Daniel FitzGerald said as he ordered Rosario jailed without bail until his July 1 sentencing.
Rosario faces up to seven years in prison on the top sexual abuse charge, as well as up to a year in jail on a separate misconduct conviction from January. In that case, he was accused of telling a teenager he'd tear up a ticket if she did him a sexual favor.
Rosario, 42, kept a tranquil expression as he heard guilty verdicts for the second time in less than five months. He also faces another trial on a charge of raping a woman who had come to a police station looking for information on children's programs.
He has denied all the allegations and said the criminal cases were police bosses' payback for his involvement in a racial discrimination lawsuit.
A former Marine and federal prison officer, "he's been a civil servant all his life, and he likes to help people," his mother, Grace Lucas-Gonzalez, said after Wednesday's verdict. "It's an injustice that has been committed."
During the trial, one woman, now 29, testified that she met Rosario in March 2008 after she locked herself out of her car. She said she gave him her phone number after he offered her information on a children's after-school program, as well as an application for a crossing-guard job and even a sought-after police parking permit.
Rosario contacted her four days later, persuaded her to get into his car by saying he needed to explain a job application, drove her to a secluded area and fondled her and forced her to kiss him while refusing to let her leave, the woman testified.
She secretly recorded a phone call later that night in which Rosario, a married father of five, told her in Spanish that he would solve problems for her and vowed, "When you have given me your mind, you will give me that body," according to a translated transcript provided by prosecutors.
He rebuffed her protestations that she felt uncomfortable about their encounter and was not looking for a relationship, the transcript showed.
Rosario testified that the woman asked him to drive her around the block, began flirting with him and gave him a few kisses.
Another woman testified that she had a similar encounter with Rosario in August 2004. She said he approached her as she was walking down a street with her two children. He offered her information on after-school programs, came by her apartment that night and then molested her, she said.
Rosario testified that he didn't remember ever being in her apartment.
The New York Police Department fired Rosario, who had been on the force for 10 years, after his conviction in January. He had been suspended after his initial arrest in 2008.
While on the force, he joined in a lawsuit claiming the department discriminated against Latinos. He testified during the sexual abuse trial that his lawsuit was settled for about $22,000 — and that he believed the payout led to retribution, including the criminal charges against him.
The police department didn't immediately respond to an inquiry Wednesday about Rosario's allegations.