Sex, Cops and Videotape: Girl Claims Abuse

In the leafy New York City bedroom community of Harrison, N.Y., typical interactions between residents and police consist of Mercedes sedans getting pulled over for speeding.

But in recent years, the placid atmosphere of the town, home to designer Kenneth Cole, Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain and Knicks guard Stephon Marbury, has been shattered by allegations of brutality, sexual abuse and fraud perpetrated by police officers.

The most recent alleged incident, which prompted a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing a veteran officer of sexually abusing a girl and forcing her to watch a sex video featuring her, has led the mayor to call an emergency session and demand the appointment of an independent monitor.

On May 17, Joseph Porto, 21, and his girlfriend, 18, claim that an officer raiding his family's home in search of marijuana fondled the then-16-year-old girl's buttocks and "placed both of his hands on [her] breasts and massaged them," according to court documents.

Detective Richard Light did this "solely for the purpose of his own sexual gratification and with the intention of both degrading and sexually abusing" the girl, says the complaint.

After Capt. Anthony Marraccini searched a bedroom and found a camcorder containing a video of the girl at age 15 having sex, three officers forced her to watch the tape with them as they mocked her, according to the complaint.

Light threatened her, saying, "I should beat your a-- for this. I hope your parents beat your a--. If someone from your house calls the cops, I will tell the cops to delay any response for 45 minutes," court documents state.

The officers took the camcorder back to the station house with them and played the video close enough to Porto's jail cell so that the young man could hear the audio while the officers laughed and made references to his girlfriend, according to the complaint.

In the lawsuit, the unidentified girl named "Jane Doe" claims that she suffered extreme emotional upset, anxiety, public humiliation, sexual abuse, among other things. She, as well as Porto, seek unspecified damages.

As a result of the lawsuit, Harrison Mayor Joan Walsh plans to hold an emergency executive session to demand that the town board authorize a full investigation by an independent investigator and to appoint an independent monitor if the allegations prove credible.

"The manner in which our residents and neighboring communities view our police department is deeply troubling to me and cannot be tolerated any longer," Walsh said in a statement e-mailed to

She added, "The civil rights and safety of Harrison residents is my foremost concern, and anything or anybody who threatens those rights or that safety must be investigated and appropriately disciplined."

Steven J. Harfenist, a lawyer for the officers, said the lawsuit is completely baseless, without merit and involves fabricated allegations.

"This was a search warrant validly executed that resulted in the arrest of Mr. Porto who is doing jail time, having pled guilty to a felony on a drug-related charge," said Harfenist. He added that officers found a handgun, silencer, large amounts of cash and marijuana with a street value of $5,000 at the house.

"The tape was never played in front of her and she was not sexually molested. She was frisked in accordance with police procedures and the search went by the book," he said.

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