Image: Hiram Monserrate
Tim Roske  /  AP
New York state Sen. Hiram Monserrate is sworn into office at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday. The ex-cop has been charged in connection with an incident which left his girlfriend in hospital.
updated 1/8/2009 8:45:17 AM ET 2009-01-08T13:45:17

A former police officer and councilman was sworn in as a new state senator, despite facing charges that he slashed his girlfriend's face with a piece of broken glass in a jealous rage.

Hiram Monserrate was surrounded by a dozen applauding friends, relatives and staff, but his girlfriend was conspicuously absent Wednesday.

Some said the charges should have kept Monserrate from taking office, and one senator turned away before a photo could be taken with the new lawmaker.

"I guess they were wrong. I'm here, and I'm here for the long haul," Monserrate said of his critics. "Of course my colleagues are treating me nice," he said.

Monserrate was part of a new influx of lawmakers who helped Democrats gain control of the Senate for the first time in four decades.

Monserrate was charged with assault and weapon possession after Karla Giraldo's face was slashed on Dec. 19 at his New York City home. The gash over her eye required 25 stitches.

Surveillance videos
Both said the incident was an accident — Monserrate told police that he tripped while holding a glass of water and that the glass accidentally hit her.

But authorities say evidence, including surveillance videos, paints a more violent picture of a heated argument and a frightened, bleeding woman in distress. Investigators say Monserrate purposely smashed her face with broken glass because he thought she was also dating a police officer.

According to the police report, Giraldo initially said she was assaulted, then changed her account after learning officers planned to arrest him. She later filed a statement with police saying she did not wish to press charges.

The Queens district attorney's office said the case is pending.

Brooklyn Republican Sen. Martin Golden, who earlier introduced a resolution to delay Monserrate's swearing in for a month until the issue is resolved, accepted Monserrate's handshake Wednesday but turned away before the press could take their picture together.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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