NYC says victim of sexual assault by peace officer has no right to sue

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Laura Zillioli says she feels as if she's being victimized again, this time by the city who says she has no claim to damages after being sexually assaulted by a city uniformed peace officer.

Zillioli has filed a $5 million dollar lawsuit against the city following the conviction last month of Social Services Supervising Sergeant John Lugo for first degree sexual assault against Zillioli in 2017.

See the full story on Eyewitness News at 5 p.m.

Zillioli had gone to the offices of Human Resources Administration in Lower Manhattan to pick up a check. When she arrived, there was no check, she refused to leave until she could speak to someone, but Sergeant Lugo took Zillioli into custody for trespassing, handcuffed her to a chair and locked her in a room.

"He started unbuttoning my shirt, pulled my bra and started touching my cleavage as if I didn't exist, as if I wasn't there, " Zillioli told 7 On Your Side Investigates in an exclusive on-camera interview.

A tearful Zillioli said, "I felt like screaming, and I wanted someone to hear me."

Frozen by fear, she says Lugo then forced her to perform oral sex on him.

"He looked like an officer to me, like a regular officer," said Laura Zillioli. "So I was, like, 'He could shoot me, strangle me. It's his word against mine.'"

Despite the trauma, Zillioli preserved her clothing, which contained DNA evidence which was used by the District Attorney and Department of Investigations to arrest Sergeant Lugo. Two weeks ago, he was sentenced to five years in a state prison.

Now Zillioli is trying to get the city to own up to its responsibility in the attack.
"They're the ones who hired him and trained him, " she says. "Of course they are partly responsible."

But in court documents in response to Zillioli's lawsuit, the city is claiming "immunity" from damages because the victim has "failed to state a valid claim."
Zillioli's attorney Michael Rubin says, "The city's failure to step up and take responsibility for this horrible act is another assault on Laura Zillioli."

Our investigation has since discovered that Lugo had two convictions prior to his hiring by the city as a special officer.

He was convicted of trespassing and disorderly conduct in a domestic case.

In a statement to 7 On Your Side, the Department of Social Services says, "We have zero tolerance for sexual harassment and misconduct...our peace officers are sworn to uphold these values, and we require supervisory peace officers to participate in enhanced sexual harassment training."


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