By Philip Newman and Jeremy Walsh
The special state Senate committee formed to look into what to do about Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst)appeared unlikely to release its findings by the end of the year, though published reports said it appeared they were preparing a severe report.
Before convening a private session in lower Manhattan Tuesday, committee chairman Sen. Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan) said the body would exhaustively discuss the matter of Monserrate’s misdemeanor assault conviction, then called an executive session to do so without the presence of the public or the media.
“We want to discuss the facts of this case thoroughly and decide our course of action,” Schneiderman told members of the press before the door was shut to the Senate conference room at 250 Broadway, across the street from City Hall.
Schneiderman and Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) said that following its deliberations a report would be written and be made public at an indefinite time, but “probably in the next few weeks.”
But The New York Times, citing an anonymous source close to the committee, said a draft concludes that Monserrate seemed to be as concerned with keeping the incident that led to his assault conviction a secret as he was with getting help for his injured girlfriend, and that he refused to take full responsibility for injuring her.
The committee could assess various penalties against Monserrate or expel him from the Senate.
Meanwhile, Democratic Senate Conference Leader John Sampson (D-Brooklyn) criticized his colleague, Sen. Brian Foley (D-Long Island), for announcing he was working on a bill to expel Monserrate from the Legislature.
“They should have done that before I established the panel,” he told the Albany Times-Union in an interview Monday. “We shouldn’t jump ahead of our committee.”
Monserrate was convicted Oct. 15 of misdemeanor assault for recklessly injuring his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, while pulling her out of his apartment building following a fight in December 2008.
He was acquitted of two felony assault charges alleging he had intentionally slashed Giraldo’s face open with a drinking glass.
He was given three years’ probation for the misdemeanor and has appealed the conviction.
A felony conviction would have required Monserrate to step down from office.
Prosecutors said Giraldo first told an emergency room doctor that Monserrate deliberately pushed the glass into her face.
She and Monserrate both claim her injury was an accident.
Monserrate was convicted based largely on security camera footage of him dragging Giraldo away from a neighbor’s door and out the apartment building’s vestibule. He said he was trying to rush her to a hospital for treatment of her injury.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.