Judge dismisses rape charges against councilman

January 24, 2008 9:17:45 AM PST
A judge dismissed the rape indictment against Councilman Dennis Gallagher on Thursday, saying Queens prosecutors unfairly prejudiced the grand jury when presenting their case. The 26-page decision, by state Supreme Court Justice Sheri Roman, was handed down this morning.

"We maintained the integrity of the grand jury proceedings were severely impaired by, among other things, the improper questioning of Councilman Gallagher," his attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said. "Judge Roman agreed completely and to her credit and a credit to her personal integrity and intellectual honestly, she dismissed all the charges."

The Queens District Attorney's Office said it plans to bring the case before a new grand jury. The office released the following statement: "As the court noted in its decision, "the testimony and evidence presented to the Grand Jury was legally sufficient to support each and every one of the counts charged." Accordingly, the matter will be re-presented to another Grand Jury before which the defendant can once again, if he be so advised, testify.

Gallagher's attorney's had asked the indictment be dropped based on prosecutorial misconduct, claiming Queens prosecutors asked questions that went beyond the central claims of the case.

Gallagher's supporters included City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who read the grand jury proceedings and said prosecutors went "way over the line."

"Justice is now done," he said.

Prosecutors had accused Gallagher of raping a woman in his Queens campaign office on July 8 after meeting her at a neighborhood bar.

The grand jury indicted the Queens Republican on 10 counts of rape, criminal sexual acts and assault.

Gallagher acknowledged having sex with the woman, but insisted it was consensual.