Giordano Challenges U.S. Charges
Federal Jurisdiction Questioned
December 8, 2001
By MARK PAZNIOKAS, Courant Staff Writer
Well-established case law says that the federal government has no jurisdiction to prosecute jailed Waterbury Mayor Philip A. Giordano on child sex charges, according to a defense motion to dismiss the case.**(see note)
The motion filed Thursday attacks the legal underpinnings of the federal charges against Giordano, who is accused in a 14-count indictment of sexually assaulting two girls under age 12.
Sexual assault is not a federal crime under most circumstances, so federal authorities charged Giordano with depriving the girls of their civil rights and using an interstate facility - a telephone - to solicit the girls for sex.
Andrew B. Bowman, Giordano's lawyer, argues that the indictment alleges that Giordano made calls only within Connecticut to arrange sex with the girls, so the interstate telephone counts should be thrown out.
As for the civil rights charges, Bowman says, "the alleged minor victims do not have a federally protected right to be free from `aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse,"' as claimed in the indictment.
The government has until next month to respond.
If Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas agrees with the defense, Giordano still faces a long road of legal troubles - sexual assault charges pending in state court, and the possibility of a new federal indictment on corruption charges.
FBI agents interrupted an investigation of possible corruption to arrest Giordano on the child sex charges in July. Wiretaps obtained to investigate corruption allegedly uncovered evidence of sexual assaults.
The challenge to the federal case "will not affect our case against Giordano," Waterbury State's Attorney John A. Connelly said. "Our charges are based on state law."
Giordano, 38, a three-term mayor and last year's Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, has been jailed without bail since his arrest July 26. A federal indictment charges him with two civil rights counts, one count of conspiracy and 11 counts of using a phone to entice or solicit the children for sex.
The indictment accuses Giordano of acting under "color of law" - abusing his powers as mayor - to deprive the children of their civil rights, a crime punishable by a maximum of life in prison.
It represents a novel use of a civil rights law more typically employed against police officers accused of brutality.
But Bowman says it is not enough that Giordano is mayor to accuse him of abusing the girls under color of law.
"In order to act under color of law, the actor's actions must be `committed in the performance of an actual or pretended' duty," Bowman wrote.
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