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Councilman Pleads Not Guilty To Assault Charges

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Outgoing Queens City Councilman Hiram Monserrate -pleaded not charged Friday night to second-degree assault charges and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

According to the Queens district attorney, Monserrate was arrested early Friday for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend with a piece of broken glass. If convicted, the 41-year-old Democratic lawmaker faces up to seven years in prison.

Police were called to Long Island Jewish Hospital just before 5 a.m. Friday for reports of a woman with a laceration over her eye that required 20 stitches. According to police, she suffered "severe facial injuries."

The woman turned out to be Monserrate's girlfriend, 30-year-old Karla Giraldo. She was treated at the hospital and then released.

The assistant Queens district attorney said the couple had a loud argument in Monserrate's Jackson Heights home over something found in Giraldo's purse. Monserrate allegedly shattered a drinking glass and stabbed her in the face.

The attorney also said that Giraldo does not want Monserrate to go to jail. The councilman's lawyer confirmed that Giraldo does not want charges to go forward.

The judge then set Monserrate's bail at $5,000 and issued a full order of protection against Giraldo, meaning the councilman cannot come within 100 yards of her.

Monserrate is a former police officer who is known as an advocate for victims of domestic violence, and his office offers pamphlets on identifying domestic violence.

He was expected to become a state senator next month after winning an unopposed election last month, but will lose his seat if he is convicted of the felony charges.

State Senator Ruben Diaz told NY1 Friday that he was shocked to learn of the arrest and while he said he did not know the details of the case, said that "a man who hits a woman is not a man."

"I didn't believe that Hiram Monserrate was capable of doing something like this, so I don't exactly know what happened," said Diaz.

"There are deeply, deeply troubling allegations. Of course, they're allegations," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "Council member Monserrate, just like any individual in the city or anywhere else, is innocent until proven guilty."

While Mayor Michael Bloomberg would not comment specifically on the case Friday, he said "one of the more serious things, crimes, acts of behavior that shouldn't take place is domestic violence."

"We take domestic violence very seriously. I don't want to comment on this particular case, that's not my role," continued the mayor. "But anybody that feels that they are threatened, I don't care what you're documentation status is, I don't care how much you're worried about being thrown out or losing your belongings or a place to stay, nothing is as important as your life, your children's lives, your parents' lives."

Residents of Monserrate's district were also shocked by the arrest and charges made against their councilman.

"For me, it's a surprise. I can't believe it, it's no good," said a Queens local. "That is terrible."

"We all are human, so we are all subject to to trial and error and mistakes," said another. "We are all subject to making bad decisions based on feelings."

Monserrate returns to court on January 16.

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