Accused Sen. Slasher Pleads Not Guilty, Gets a Kiss

NEW YORK  — State Sen. Hiram Monserrate and the girlfriend he is accused of slashing in the face failed to convince a judge to overturn a ruling separating the two -- despite the big smooch Carla Giraldo planted on Monserrate as he walked into court, according to reports.

Monserrate pleaded not guilty Friday to an indictment charging him with assaulting his girlfriend, while his Albany colleagues discussed setting up a fund to aid his legal defense.

Monserrate was arraigned in state Supreme Court in Queens on a six-count indictment. Prosecutors say he slashed Karla Giraldo's face with a broken glass in a jealous rage. He faces seven years in prison if convicted on the most serious charges of second-degree assault.

Monserrate has maintained his innocence and said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown's decision to prosecute him was politically motivated. Brown's spokesman, Kevin Ryan, said the incident is being handled like every other domestic violence case.

"We handle over 5,000 such cases a year," Ryan said.

Judge William Erlbaum refused to lift an order of protection against Monserrate Friday after viewing surveillance footage showing part of the alleged Dec. 19 incident in the hallway of Monserrate's New York City apartment building.

Police have said the footage shows a heated argument and a frightened, bleeding woman in distress. A gash over Giraldo's eye required 25 stitches.

Giraldo, 29, initially said she was assaulted, then changed her story after learning officers planned to arrest Monserrate, according to the police report. She later told police she did not wish to press charges.

Both say it was an accident. Monserrate told police he tripped while holding a glass of water and that the glass accidentally hit Giraldo.

"It was an accident. I don't need an order of protection. It's unnecessary. This is an injustice. I love him," Giraldo said outside the courtroom later, the New York Post reported.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats at a closed-door meeting this week discussed helping Monserrate by setting up a defense fund. Senators were not directly asked to contribute, but Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said he wouldn't prevent them from helping.

"He said, 'If you want to help out a colleague, you should feel free to do so,' " Austin Shafran, a Smith spokesman, said Friday. He wouldn't say whether Smith planned to contribute.

Monserrate's next court date is June 26.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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