NEW YORK – A New York city councilman was arraigned Friday on charges of rape and assault stemming from an encounter with a woman who accused him of attacking her in his office hours after they met in a bar.
Councilman Dennis Gallagher, a married father of two, turned himself in after a grand jury came back with the 10-count indictment on multiple rape and assault charges. In testimony before the grand jury earlier this week, he acknowledged an encounter with the 52-year-old woman but contended it was consensual.
"He concedes that it was morally bad conduct on his part, but he absolutely and vehemently denies any criminal wrongdoing," his lawyer Stephen R. Mahler said.
The woman alleged that after the July 8 meeting in the bar, he offered to drive her home but instead took her to his district office, where he attacked her.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown called the allegations "troubling — particularly because they involve the actions of a public official who has a special responsibility to uphold and obey the law."
Gallagher, elected to the council in 2001, is one of three Republicans in the 51-member body. He lives in the Middle Village section of Queens with his family, according to the council's Web site.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Thursday described the allegations against Gallagher as "deeply troubling." She said in a statement that the council's Standards and Ethics Committee would weigh the case.
The councilman has asked to be temporarily removed from his committee assignments, Quinn said Friday.
Gallagher faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. He was out on $200,000 bail and was scheduled to return to court Sept. 28.