Ex-Judge Charged With Criminal Sexual Interference Claims Groped ‘Accident’
A former New Jersey municipal judge has denied charges of groping a woman, with her attorney suggesting on Wednesday that her hands slipped and touched her breasts.
Nino F. Falcone, a former municipal judge in North Bergen, told the state Judicial Conduct Advisory Committee on Wednesday that he had no intention of assaulting a woman in his law office who then brought criminal charges against him, the New Jersey Monitor reported.
The disciplinary hearing followed a complaint filed by the woman in June which accused Falcone of making an unwanted advance, adding that the ex-judge ‘degraded the judicial function’ and ‘damaged the integrity of the judicial authority”.
The complaint says the two knew each other and the incident happened in 2019 when the woman went to Falcone’s law office on behalf of her employer.
The complaint describes his version of events: After finishing business, the two had a little chat. As she tried to leave, she said Falcone pulled her inside and started rubbing her back. She tried to push Falcone away, but he grabbed her arm, allegedly clutched her chest and said “let me touch you, let me play with you”. Falcone released her, took out her wallet and offered her “birthday money,” which she declined before leaving, according to the complaint.
“I felt disgusted. I felt violated,” the woman told the committee on Wednesday.
Falcone disputed most of the woman’s version of events during Wednesday’s hearing, telling the committee, “Her version of events is not my version of events.” He said he never makes physical contact in his professional work. Although he couldn’t explain why the hug happened, he said he had no ill intentions.
“It wasn’t premeditated, and it wasn’t for personal gratifications or malice on my part,” Falcone told the committee. “It was just an accident.”
The woman reported the incident to the Teaneck Police Department, who referred her to the Hudson County District Attorney’s Office Special Victims Unit, according to the complaint.
During a phone call, Falcone admitted to the woman that he had touched her “inappropriately” and apologized to her, an admission which was secretly recorded by detectives. Falcone was arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct in September 2019. The charges were dismissed in May 2021 after completing an intervention program.
Jefferey Garrigan, an attorney for Falcone, responded to the complaint to the Judicial Conduct Committee in July asking for it to be dismissed and denying that his client had violated the Judicial Conduct Code.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Garrigan asked the woman if Falcone’s hands had slipped, coming into contact with her breasts and if she had initiated the hug, which Falcone had claimed earlier.
“Seriously? Seriously? replied the woman.
Falcone retired from his part-time job as a municipal judge in 2020, and any discipline would have little effect, according to the To watch.
Garrigan said in an email to Newsweek that his client “has an impeccable reputation as a judge and lawyer for more than three decades, respects the process and awaits the decision of the Committee”.