Queens councilman should resign after rape indictment


City Councilman Dennis Gallagher of Queens has been charged with rape and sexual assault in a 10-count indictment that likely contains the most serious criminal charges ever lodged against a member of the municipal legislature. He should resign forthwith. Facing up to 25 years in prison, Gallagher will be consumed by defending himself. He won't be able to represent his constituents effectively, and where he goes, disgrace will follow.

Gallagher's accuser is a 52-year-old woman who met him in a Middle Village tavern and wound up in his office, where, she says, he brutalized her. He says the sex that left the woman bruised and torn was consensual, that he is guilty only of adultery. There, he is wrong. At best, Gallagher lacks mature judgment; at worst, he is a violent sexual predator. Either way, he cannot do the job he was elected to do.

Hours after the indictment Friday, Gallagher, a Republican, voluntarily surrendered his special perks of office, including his $5,000 annual bonus, or lulu, his membership on six committees and his position on the Council's budget negotiating team.

That's how it should be. Get indicted, lose your leadership posts. Now, Democratic Speaker Christine Quinn and Republican Minority Leader Jim Oddo must rewrite the rules so members automatically lose privileges on indictment.

Editorial from The Forum South:

The charges against Council Member Dennis Gallagher are the most serious ever brought against a sitting member in the history of the NYC Council. Accused of raping a woman he met at a bar across the street from his own house, Gallagher is alleged to have offered the woman a ride home. He is accused of bringing her to his campaign office instead, where he allegedly sexually assaulted and beat her brutally.

Despite the indictment and the severity of the charges against him, Gallagher maintains that he is not a rapist. What he does admit is that he engaged in a sexual act, in his office — claiming of course, that it was consensual.

That act, be it of consent or not, needs neither trial nor jury to be judged. It is clearly not one that describes or supports any case for effective representation by an elected official. What it offers instead is a statement of moral bankruptcy.

The meeting took place across the street from the home he shares with his wife and two children. The act he describes as consensual, took place in his campaign office – paid for by the people who elected him and who believed in him.

During the time that Gallagher campaigned for his seat and since winning it, he has held on tightly to the Conservative/ Republican “value package” that represents him as a principled man – family and community superseding all else. But that veil of ethics has been lifted in the days since the reports of the attack.

A former staffer, who, according to sources, has spoken with the Department of Investigation, alleges that Gallagher regularly used his council office employees for campaign purposes. Yet another – a former office volunteer – alleges that he sexually harassed her. Then there is the Juniper Civic Association that represents 1700 families in Maspeth and Middle Village, who fell under Gallagher’s “attack” when they voiced concerns over the manner in which he was representing them. According to the Civic, Gallagher went so far as to use his City Council stationery to mail and distribute derogatory letters about their volunteer organization.

While these “charges” are not to be compared with those levied against the councilman in the indictment, they are certainly indicative of a significant lack of the sterling character and moral platform Gallagher purports himself to possess.

An editorial in The Daily News recently called for Gallagher to resign. While that proposal is one to be applauded, we cannot fail to recognize what a shame it is that Gallagher would be allowed to imitate a noble gesture by stepping down. Our preference would be to see him ousted by the very constituency that put him into office, however that is not realistic.

Equally as unfortunate in this case, are the term limits that prohibit him from running in the next election, should he slither out of a conviction. The same wounded constituency will not be able to denounce him at the polls. They must rely on justice to vindicate them and the magnitude of the disgrace that Dennis Gallagher has brought to their community.

In a 2001 campaign piece on family values, Dennis Gallagher spoke about himself; “My parents taught me the values I have today: to put my family, neighbors and community first; that honesty and hard work are rewarded; that education is the great equalizer in our society. I have never forgotten what my parents taught me and I never will.”

Perhaps if there were to be a campaign now, six years later, the same piece would be amended as follows:

“My parents worked hard to instill values in me. I chose to throw them into the gutter. I have dishonored my marriage and my family and disrespected my neighbors and my community. Vote for someone else.”