2009-11-06 / Columnists

It's My Turn

Senator Monserrate Should Resign Now
By Congressman Gregory Meeks

The legal process has run its course in regard to the domestic violence allegations against New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate. In a bench trial, Senator Monserrate was acquitted of felony charges but found guilty of "recklessly causing physical injury," a misdemeanor.

In rendering the verdict, Justice William M. Erlbaum strongly re - buked the senator, citing him for dragging his girl friend "through the lobby of his Jackson Heights apartment building to drive her to a hospital after she was cut." Justice Erlbaum noted that "the state has clearly proven" that Senator Mon - serrate "did indeed cause injury to Karla Giraldo without a reasonable doubt." He went on to point out that "the building videos showed an as - sault in the hallway.

While Senator Monserrate may have shown some concern for Ms. Giraldo, Justice Erlbaum added that "it's not unreasonable there was an - other concern: to get her away from the house and neighborhood where the defendant had roots and get her to a place of low visibility to keep things under the radar." In fact, Senator Monserrate rejected his girl friend's plea to call 911 and drove her 14 miles to Long Island Jewish Medical Center on the Queens-Nas - sau border, bypassing Elmhurst Hospital Center just four blocks away.

This case did not end with the judge's gavel. A vigorous debate continues among the public and in the New York State Senate where a com mittee has been set up to con - sider sanctions, including expulsion. It is not my place to involve myself in the affairs of a legislative body to which I have not been elec - ted, but it is my place and responsibility as an elected official, a husband, brother, and father to add my voice to those who are calling on Senator Monserrate to resign.

It is obvious that the charge on which he was found guilty has irreversibly compromised his capacity to serve. But this is not the fundamen - tal reason I am calling for his resignation. Domestic violence is a uniquely serious offense. A person — particularly a woman, a child, or the elderly — ought to be safe and se - cure in the context of a family or a romantic relationship. If there is no security of one's person in those contexts there is no security anywhere. Society must have zero tolerance for domestic violence. This applies ab - solutely to public officials.

It is one thing to be accused of do - mestic violence but quite another to be found guilty of charges related to domestic violence. Senator Monser - rate should spare himself, his colleagues and constituents, and his family of further anguish and anger. He should resign, now.

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