A Queens grand jury indicted State Senator Hiram Monserrate Monday on felony assault charges. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
The Queens Democrat attended a session of the State Senate Monday, but kept a low profile as he defensively addressed an embarrassing indictment. He was also stripped of his chairmanship of the State Senate's Consumer Affairs Committee.
The move comes as the former police officer and city councilman, was arrested on assault charges back in December. The most serious charge carries a seven-year prison sentence.
He is accused of slashing his girlfriend with a broken glass, requiring 25 stitches over her eye.
Monserate says he accidentally tripped and that his girlfriend no longer wants to press charges.
"Listen, the reality is that from the very beginning I have said this was an accident. My girlfriend said it's an accident. This is an accident and we look forward to the dismissal of all these charges based on the truth," said Monserrate.
The alleged victim, Karla Giraldo, backed up the Democrat's claim that it was an accident.
Authorities have said surveillance tapes show something quite different -- that Monserrate was enraged because he thought the alleged victim was dating someone else. He wouldn't comment on the move to strip his chairmanship. Neither did Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith.
If Monserrate resigns or is forced out of office, Democrats would see their slim majority turn into an even slimmer hold. Not surprisingly, there are calls from Republicans for him to leave.
"Obviously the victim is probably the most important aspect of this entire case and to stay in the state senate, to act as a state legislature, sends not only the wrong message to the people across this state, but it makes a spectacle out of this case," said State Senator Martin Golden, (R) Brooklyn.
Fellow Democrats disagree and some are calling the charges political.
"The two of them are saying it was an accident," said State Senator Ruben Diaz Senior, (D) Bronx.
"I think the court system will handle the case. We aren't supposed to handle criminal law, the courts are supposed to handle criminal law, and the courts will do what they need to do," said State Senator Liz Krueger, (D) Manhattan.
Other Democrats declined to comment, saying that's what they were instructed to do.