A freshman state senator sworn in to office despite allegations he slashed his girlfriend's face with a piece of broken glass in a jealous rage has been indicted on domestic assault charges, prosecutors said Monday.
A grand jury in Queens indicted Hiram Monserrate on three counts of second-degree felony assault and three counts of third-degree misdemeanor assault. Monserrate, who faces seven years in prison on the most serious of the charges, was expected to be arraigned later this week.
Monserrate, who was in Albany on Monday for a legislative session, released a statement claiming he did not commit a crime.
"I've said all along this was accident. Karla has said all along this was accident. The district attorney's politically motivated decision to pursue this case doesn't change the fact that this was an accident,'' he said.
Meantime Monday, a statement from Senate majority Leader Malcolm Smith office said Sen. Monserrate would temporarily step down as Chair of the Senate’s Consumer Affairs Committee. Sen. Monserrate will retain his duties as a member of the State Senate during this time, the statement said.
His attorneys said they will seek an independent prosecutor because they believe Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown is biased.
The 41-year-old former police officer was arrested after Karla Giraldo's face was slashed on Dec. 19 at his New York City home. The gash over her eye required 25 stitches. Both said the incident was an accident.
Monserrate told police that he tripped while holding a glass of water and that the glass accidentally hit her.
But authorities say evidence, including surveillance videos, painted a more violent picture of a heated argument and a frightened, bleeding woman in distress. Investigators say Monserrate smashed her face with broken glass because he thought she was also dating a police officer.
According to the police report, Giraldo, 29, initially said she was assaulted, then changed her account after learning officers planned to arrest him. She later filed a statement with police saying she did not wish to press charges.
Meanwhile, Monserrate was sworn in to office in January, part of an influx of new lawmakers who helped Democrats gain control of the Senate for the first time in four decades. He was also appointed chairman of the Consumer Protection Committee.
Some lawmakers and women's groups criticized the decision to seat the freshman Democrat, saying he should not be sworn in until the criminal case was resolved.