Councilman says slashing was accidental

December 20, 2008 8:15:58 PM PST
A New York City councilman accused of intentionally slashing his girlfriend in the face with a broken glass called it an "unfortunate accident" on Saturday. "I have been charged with offenses that I did not commit and am not capable of committing," Hiram Monserrate, a Democratic councilman and state senator-elect, said in a statement a day after he was arrested on domestic violence charges.

Monserrate got into an argument with girlfriend Karla Giraldo, 30, early Friday at his Queens house, according to a criminal complaint. Giraldo said Monserrate broke a glass in his hand and cut her face with it, causing her to need 20 stitches around her left eye.

During Monserrate's arraignment Friday, a prosecutor said Giraldo had changed her story, also saying the injury was an accident and asking not to proceed with charges.

Monserrate, a 41-year-old former police officer, expressed concerns about how the case was handled.

Calling the situation "a terribly unfortunate accident," the councilman said, "I have absolutely nothing to hide, and all facts will become known at the appropriate time."

During 12 years with the New York Police Department, "I worked to put men who abused women in jail," he added.

Monserrate was elected to the state Senate last month and is to be sworn in Jan. 1.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said Saturday that he was "appalled" by the allegations and called on Monserrate to recuse himself from any role in his remaining days on the council.

Monserrate was charged with two counts of assault and one count of weapon possession. A judge set his bail at $5,000 and barred contact between the councilman and Giraldo. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

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