The monthly Juniper Park Civic Association meeting erupted in shouts last Thursday after former City Councilman Dennis Gallagher’s sexual assault victim spoke to the hundreds assembled there.
The woman identified herself as “Mrs. A” and, though at a public forum, asked not to be photographed. “It’s been a hard road for me,” she said to the crowd at Our Lady of Hope school in Middle Village. “I am his victim, one of them that I know of. I don’t know how many there are.”
In a shaky voice, she proceeded to read from a statement issued at the time of the plea bargain and read in court by her lawyers the day Gallagher pleaded guilty.
“I will never recover from the pain, anguish and humiliation I suffered as a result of this man’s vicious assault and attack on me,” she read. “He has scarred me for life, and he took away my dignity and self-esteem.”
The victim then appealed to those present, who will be asked to vote in a special election on June 3 to replace Gallagher, whose last day in office was April 18.
“Now that the garbage is out of office, we will move on,” she said. “Be careful in choosing” the next candidate, she stressed. “Take your time. Do your homework.”
Gallagher pleaded guilty in March to two misdemeanor counts of sexual misconduct, including forcible touching and third-degree sexual abuse. Gallagher has said that he only pleaded guilty because of mounting legal fees. Mrs. A has maintained publicly that she was raped.
Mrs. A thanked the JPCA for its support and concluded her speech with a warning to local residents: “Just be careful. (Gallagher is) still out on the streets.”
Once Mrs. A had finished, a woman in the front row asked a question concerning whether or not there was proof of the rape. A brief melee ensued.
“He pled guilty,” shouted Christina Wilkinson, the JPCA’s secretary, who sprang from her seat to take the microphone. “Case closed.”
“She never got a trial,” added Bob Doocey, a JPCA executive board member. He went on to lambaste the woman in the front row for asking the question.
“That bum pleaded guilty,” he said, going on to cite “details,” unmentionable in a public forum, “that prove she is a victim and he is a predator.”
Councilman Tony Avella, of Bayside, who in late March announced his candidacy for mayor, spoke to the crowd once the commotion receded.
“I believed it immediately,” he said, referring to the rape allegations against Gallagher. “This guy was out of control. Thank God he is finally gone.”
Avella, citing his experience in having worked alongside Gallagher in the City Council, added that Gallagher had not been a diligent public servant. “He betrayed you. He betrayed the community.”
Bob Holden, president of the JPCA and a longtime critic of Gallagher, said the group had locked horns with Gallagher “long before he was charged.
“We’re standing up to elected officials who don’t do the right thing,” Holden said. “We had a two-year battle and look who’s standing.”