Identifying herself only as "Mrs. A," the 52-year-old Middle Village grandmother assaulted by former City Councilman Dennis Gallagher in July at his district office spoke publicly last Thursday for the first time about the case at the Juniper Park Civic Association's monthly meeting.
The victim told civic members that she thought it was important to speak out about the incident.
"It's been a hard road for me," she said. "But hiding behind closed doors doesn't help. [Gallagher] has scarred me for life and taken away my dignity and self-esteem."
Gallagher resigned his post on April 18 as part of a plea deal that will keep him out of prison and off the sex offender's registry. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors sexual abuse and forcible touching under the deal.
Gallagher could not be reached for comment.
Gallagher had met the victim at the Middle Village bar Danny Boy's and brought her back to his office on Metropolitan Avenue, where the incident took place, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
As part of his plea deal, Gallagher was also forced to enroll in an alcohol treatment program and not contact the victim.
Fellow Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who recently joined with the civic to preserve Maspeth's historic St. Savior's Church, told civic members that Gallagher "betrayed his community."
"He was out of control in this community," he said. "Thank God he is finally gone. The fact that he was allowed to plea and resign is a disgrace."
Mrs. A told civic members that they should carefully research the candidates running in the special election on June 3 to replace Gallagher.
Candidates vying for his seat include Democrats Elizabeth Crowley, a cousin of U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), who ran against Gallagher in 2001; Charles Ober, first vice president of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association; and John Seminerio, an attorney and son of state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill).
Republicans in the race include Anthony Como, a commissioner with the city's Elections Board and an aide to state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale); Thomas Ognibene, a 2005 mayoral candidate who held Gallagher's seat for 10 years; and Joseph Suraci, a Middle Village attorney who ran against state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood).
The civic will host a candidates night on May 16 at a yet-to-be-disclosed location.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2008 Community News Group
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