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Old 03-26-2003, 08:35 AM   #1
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Waterbury, CT ex-mayor faces life sentence

What a bastard.

Guilty Giordano Faces Life Term
Jury Convicts Former Waterbury Mayor On 17 Of 18 Counts In Child Sex Abuse Case

March 26, 2003
By LYNNE TUOHY, Courant Staff Writer

BRIDGEPORT -- On a July evening in 2001, then-Waterbury Mayor Philip A. Giordano was watching the last inning of his son's T-ball game and talking on his cellphone to arrange sex with a convicted prostitute and her daughter.

He learned it was the daughter's birthday. She turned 9 that day. Giordano's response: "Wow! That's cool." He set the meeting for 7:45 p.m.

Tuesday was Giordano's birthday - his 40th - and a jury convicted him of repeatedly forcing oral sex on that child and her cousin, age 10.

Federal prosecutors Tuesday lauded the children, who now live in foster care and see therapists regularly, as the true heroes of the case. The girls testified about what happened to them from a remote location to a courtroom full of strangers, but with a laptop computer screen displaying to them the image of their assailant throughout.

Giordano was the man they thought "was the boss of everybody." The man they thought "protects the city ... watches over you like God."

It was the authority he projected to them and the fear he instilled in them that drew convictions for violating the civil rights of both girls, by virtue of aggravated sexual assault and using the power of his office to accomplish the assaults. Now he faces life in prison on each of those convictions when sentenced June 13.

For his part, Giordano was speechless and expressionless as the verdict was read. He wove his fingers together tightly, pressed them to his lips and stared straight ahead. His mother and sister also showed no emotion. His wife, Dawn, did not come to court Tuesday.

In all, the jury convicted him of 17 of the 18 counts against him, including one count of conspiracy and 14 cellphone conversations in which Giordano and convicted prostitute Guitana Jones attempted to arrange sexual liaisons. The sole charge jurors deadlocked on was a phone call that consisted only of Jones leaving a message on Giordano's voicemail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Jongbloed informed the court he was handing off Giordano to Waterbury State's Attorney John Connelly, who plans to try him in state court on charges of first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. Giordano is expected to return to Waterbury Thursday for the first time since his arrest July 26, 2001, as a criminal defendant in a courthouse a stone's throw from the office of the mayor.

Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas, who has closely guarded Giordano's fair trial rights by keeping certain court documents secret well beyond the dates of rulings that should have opened them to the public, is not expected to indulge him one iota at sentencing. On the contrary, Nevas in pretrial proceedings expressed great concern for the trauma the children would have to endure by testifying, and limited defense attorney Andrew Bowman's access to juvenile court records that seemed to contain some graphic and explosive information. Those records purportedly contained evidence of prior sexual abuse of at least one of the girls.

Nevas had cautioned Giordano before he took the witness stand last Thursday about the potential consequences - opening doors into lines of inquiry on cross-examination, and even an increased sentence if the jury disbelieved him. When Bowman objected to the collateral issues Jongbloed raised on cross-examination - from extramarital affairs to the cash and gifts Giordano accepted from city contractors - Nevas said Giordano's decision to testify made him "fair game."

He will be fair game on June 13 as well.

"If for any reason he gets less than anyone thinks he should, John Connelly is waiting in the wings," prominent New Haven defense attorney John Williams said.

But so is the specter of an appeal.

"I think Judge Nevas made one very major mistake - keeping Bowman from getting access to the juvenile court records," Williams said.

Bowman was brief in his remarks after the verdict. "This is a very sad and difficult day for Philip Giordano and his entire family. His family was extremely supportive and stood by Phil in all the proceedings."

Bowman said he anticipates an appeal, but declined to identify what issues it might encompass.

Within half an hour of being given the case Monday, the jury asked to have the testimony of both girls read back to them. It may have been because the acoustics of the initial remote-testimony set-up were so bad, or because they were looking for something specific. That read-back consumed much of Monday afternoon.

Tuesday the jury deliberated for five hours without any notes or requests, before sending out a note at 2:45 p.m. that they had reached verdicts on all but one count. Nevas' courtroom clerk, Alice Montz, read the verdicts. Each juror stood in turn to assert it was his or her verdict.

Bowman, in his final arguments, tried to taint Jones' credibility by stressing she might gain leniency at sentencing for her testimony against Giordano. Giordano, who spent three days cooperating with federal agents in the investigation into corruption in Waterbury before being formally charged with the child sex allegations, foreclosed those options for himself.

"He will play no role in any further investigation," Jongbloed stressed.

After the verdict, Nevas admonished jurors not to talk to the media. Two jurors who heard all the testimony, but were designated as alternates and dismissed just prior to the start of deliberations, were free to speak. One was Davin Gebauer of Darien, who said the taped phone conversations were overwhelming.

"The taped phone calls -`Do you have the little ones there?' - was just too damaging," Gebauer said.

Gebauer said the girls' testimony was buttressed by that of Jones and the various men she enlisted to drive her and at least one of the girls to meet with the mayor. The drivers were oblivious to what occurred.

"It seemed pretty damned clear to me, all the stories appeared pretty darned close. They all seemed logical," Gebauer said. "What would these people have against him to not tell the truth? It's not like they're political enemies."

Gebauer said the jury did not believe Giordano's explanation. And by the time the former mayor's testimony ended, and the jury left the courtroom for a break, no one met Giordano's earnest gaze.

"You know, as a juror, you're probably going to put this guy away for life," Gebauer said. "I was trying to hear anything I could."

Despite Giordano's eight hours on the witness stand, the jury heard nothing to sway them from guilty verdicts.

"I'm surprised it actually took that long," Gebauer said of the deliberations.

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Old 03-26-2003, 10:01 AM   #2
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I hope the mother of this poor girl gets as harsh a sentance.

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Old 03-26-2003, 10:04 AM   #3
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Originally posted by Angela Harlem
I hope the mother of this poor girl gets as harsh a sentance.
So do I.
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Old 03-26-2003, 12:13 PM   #4
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oh my god...those poor girls, how can a mother do this to her own girls?
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Old 03-26-2003, 12:16 PM   #5
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awful - truly awful...
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