NEW YORK, July 19, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- John Lugo, a former Sergeant and supervisor in the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) Police Department, was sentenced in Manhattan today to five years in state prison after pleading guilty to the violent sexual assault of Laura Zilioli last year.
Ms. Zilioli, attending to agency business at the HRA offices on 14th Street on May 17, 2017 became upset because a check she had been promised wasn't ready, Sgt. Lugo arrested her for trespassing, handcuffed her behind her back and put her in a private room for processing. In that private room, while still handcuffed, Sgt. Lugo sexually assaulted Ms. Zilioli, including forcibly sodomizing her. Despite the trauma of the attack, Ms. Zilioli had the presence of mind to preserve her clothing containing DNA evidence. The trespassing charge was dismissed.
After an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's office and the New York City Police Department, which linked Lugo to the crime by DNA, Lugo pled guilty in May to the class B felony charge of Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree and today he was sentenced to five years in prison.
"Ms. Zilioli was traumatized and suffered severe emotional pain, anguish and distress as a result of this brutal assault," Michael F. Rubin, of Kelly & Rubin, LLP, Ms. Zilioli's attorney, said. "There is no debate about Sgt. Lugo's guilt or innocence. But when Ms. Zilioli asked the City to compensate her for damages after this life-changing, horrific encounter, the City's attorneys claimed the City is not responsible for Sgt. Lugo's actions."
"The City claims it has a 'zero tolerance' for sexual assault, yet, in this case, contends that it doesn't bear responsibility for this heinous act perpetrated by one of its employees," Mr. Rubin said.
Further, there are many high-profile cases in which men have been compensated for abuse at the hands of NYC law enforcement, including Abner Louima and the family of Eric Garner.
"During the rise of the worldwide #MeToo movement, shouldn't government officials be even more aware of these issues and even more outraged when one of their own brutally assaults a woman?" Mr. Rubin said.
Ms. Zilioli said, "Why are men getting compensated for their pain and suffering, while the City turns a blind eye to me? It is like being assaulted all over again."
Ms. Zilioli said that she is speaking out publicly because she believes others might have also been abused by Lugo. She wants to encourage any others who may have been assaulted by Lugo or any other law enforcement officer to step forward. "I never want anyone to go through what I had to go through," said Zilioli.
Michael F Rubin
SOURCE Kelly & Rubin, LLP