Hempstead Town Clerk Mark Bonilla was painted as both the manipulator of a woman who accused him of sexual harassment and an honest politician Monday during opening statements of his misconduct trial.
Bonilla opted for a bench trial before Judge Sharon Gianelli instead of a jury trial after pleading not guilty last fall to charges of coercion, attempted coercion official misconduct and petit larceny.
“Most cases seem complex, then become simpler,” Assistant District Attorney Jed Painter told the court in his opening. “This is the opposite, looking simple and then grows like a weed.”
Mineola-based defense attorney Adrian DiLuzio asked the judge keep an open and questioned the accuracy of the prosecutor.
“A public official doesn’t commit a crime when their acting as regular people,” DiLuzio said in court.
Bonilla, who had refused calls from fellow Republicans to step down after his arrest, allegedly asked the ex-boyfriend of his accuser—both of whom worked in the clerk’s office at the time—for intimate photos of the woman in order to get her to drop the complaint.
Painter said after Bonilla learned of the allegations, the clerk held a meeting to tell his staff that his accuser “has nothing on me.”
The accuser testified Monday afternoon that Bonilla told her she would half to prove her loyalty to him if she wanted the clerk to undo her transfer from his office.
The woman recorded the meeting—a recording that is one of the key pieces of evidence in the case, although attempts to play it in court were stumped by technical difficulties.
She is expected to take the stand again when the trial resumes Tuesday at First District Court in Hempstead.