A former Montgomery County defense lawyer on Friday withdrew his guilty plea to a charge of raping an unconscious female client.
Scheduled to be sentenced Friday on the felony charge, Vincent A. Cirillo Jr. instead opted to withdraw the plea after meeting for two hours with his lawyer Nino Tinari.
Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill directed that Cirillo meet with Tinari before the sentencing after pointing out that the details of the alleged incident Cirillo shared with a probation officer preparing a background report on him differed from his comments at the guilty plea hearing in October.
“He told me today he was uncomfortable pleading guilty, asserts his innocence and wants a jury to determine the outcome,” said Tinari.
“That outcome, I can assure you, is that he is not guilty of any of the charges,” said Tinari. “He is innocent.”
Cirillo, 57, formerly of the 1100 block of Maplecross Avenue in Lower Merion and now residing in the 200 block of Hampden Avenue, Narberth, faces a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years on the charge. However, state sentencing guidelines in the standard range call for a maximum minimum sentence of anywhere between 48 and 66 months.
O’Neill scheduled Cirillo’s trial date for Feb. 6.
In addition to the charge of rape of an unconscious person, Cirillo will go to trial on related charges that include involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault and indecent assault. These charges would have been dropped at the time of sentencing.
Cirillo, whose late father served as a Montgomery County judge and as president judge on the state Superior Court, is in the county prison in lieu of $80,000 cash bail on another case.
Assistant District Attorney Stewart Ryan, who is prosecuting the case, said the prosecution was prepared for the sentencing and is prepared for the trial.
The victim “was prepared to testify against him in October and will (be) ready to testify against him in February,” said Ryan when asked about her reaction to Cirillo’s plea withdrawal.
The rape reportedly occurred about 9 p.m. on Aug. 3, 2015, at his client’s apartment in West Norriton. The client reported the incident to police on Aug. 6, authorities said.
The client and Cirillo were scheduled to meet at a West Norriton bar to discuss her case. Running late, the client contacted Cirillo, asking him if he could instead meet her at her apartment, according to a criminal complaint.
After a brief meeting, Cirillo remained, consuming alcoholic beverages with the client and several others who stopped by the apartment, the complaint said.
The others left, leaving what the criminal complaint described as a “highly intoxicated” client alone with Cirillo, according to the complaint.
The client reportedly told police she “blacked out” and, while she has no specific recollection, suspected she had been sexually assaulted by Cirillo, the complaint said.
When the client did not arrive at a friend’s house by 10 p.m., the friend went to her apartment and reported finding her in her bed, wearing only her underwear, according to the complaint.
Questioned by police, Cirillo reportedly admitted performing a sexual act on the “highly intoxicated,” “semi-conscious” client but added he did not have sexual intercourse with her, according to the complaint.
Analyzing Cirillo’s cellphone, investigators allegedly found seven photos of the woman while she was lying on her bed.
In six of the photos, which were taken over a 25-minute span, the client’s face was visible, the complaint said. Investigators said in the complaint that in those six photos the client’s “eyes are closed and she appears to be completely unconscious.”
Cirillo also faces other criminal charges stemming from the incident.
Authorities have accused him of visiting the county’s domestic relations office on Sept. 21, and, allegedly identifying himself as his accuser’s lawyer, attempting to secure secret domestic relations documents involving his accuser.
Cirillo is charged with identity theft, forgery, falsely impersonating and conspiracy in that case.
Cirillo is scheduled to be formally arraigned next month in county court on those charges.
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