|Justin C. Maltagliati|
By Sarah Schulz
A former federal police officer with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Grand Island has been sentenced to 300 days in jail for misdemeanor sexual assault.
Justin C. Maltagliati, 41, pleaded no contest to third-degree sexual assault, which was a reduction from felony first-degree sexual assault, in April as part of a plea agreement. The incident occurred on July 20, 2012, and involved a woman who had been his girlfriend.
According to court documents, the woman went to the emergency room at St. Francis Medical Center following the assault. She also filed a request for a protection order against Maltagliati three days after the assault. According to that document, she woke up at 3 a.m. to Maltagliati touching her. She pushed him away and told him to stop. He sexually assaulted her while she screamed at him to stop, according to the document.
Maltagliati denies the woman’s version of events.
In court Tuesday, Maltagliati’s father, testified on his son’s behalf.
Under questioning from Maltagliati’s attorney, Mark Porto, the man said the charge was out of character for his son. Prior to the charge, he said his son had been dedicated to “family, church, country and occupation.”
He lost his job as a result of the case and hopes to move back to New Jersey to start over, [father name withheld] said. He added that his son has “been an honorable and dedicated son” who served his country and was a good police officer.
“He’ll have to find something new to do now,” [father name withheld] said.
Deputy Hall County Attorney Sarah Carstensen agreed with [father name withheld] that it’s hard to watch a child struggle.
“But the victim’s parents would probably tell you the same thing,” she said.
She said there are lifelong consequences for both the defendant and the victim, who has been deeply affected by the incident.
“The defendant has given no indication that he’s done anything wrong,” Carstensen said.
She asked for jail time for Maltagliati.
Porto said his client wrote a letter to the judge maintaining his innocence. However, Maltagliati knew he risked being convicted of a felony, so he accepted the misdemeanor charge despite continuing to claim his innocence.
Porto said Maltagliati spent more than five years in the U.S. Coast Guard before starting work as a veterans affairs officer. His federal work brought him to Grand Island from New Jersey. He enjoyed his job and received good reviews but he knows it’s likely he’ll no longer be able to do that kind of work.
“That’s an aspect of his life that’s over,” Porto said.
He said Maltagliati voluntarily relinquished his bond after his plea and has spent a total of 56 days in jail. He has been meeting regularly with a priest while at the jail as well.
As to the evidence against his client, Porto said the emergency room doctor didn’t find any evidence of trauma on the woman the night she reported the assault. There have also been inconsistencies in the facts of the case, he said. He asked Hall County District Judge Teresa Luther to sentence his client to time served and allow him to move back to New Jersey.
Maltagliati also spoke before being sentenced.
“From the beginning I’ve maintained I’m innocent,” he said. “I want to put this behind me and move on.”
He said having to register as a sexual offender and follow the rules of that program is, to him, similar to probation. He also asked Luther to give him time served.
Luther had Maltagliati sign the sexual offender registration paperwork. She then sentenced him to the jail term, giving him credit for the 56 days he has already served.