- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

BRIDGEPORT, Conn., March 5 (UPI) — Federal trials in Connecticut involving one former mayor and an incumbent mayor reached different stages Wednesday.

While one was about to go on trial on federal child sexual assault charges, another federal jury was to begin deliberating corruption charges against the other.

In U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, a federal jury of 12 men and two women was impaneled Tuesday to hear the case against former Waterbury Mayor Philip A. Giordano. The actual trial was expected to begin next Wednesday.

Giordano, 40, was charged with sexually abusing of two girls under the age of 12 between February and July 2001, while he was mayor.

Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas told prospective jurors that Giordano allegedly forced the young girls to engage in oral sex and touched their breasts and genitals, causing them physical injury.

The two young girls, now aged 10 and 13, were expected to testify, as was co-defendant Guitana Jones, a convicted prostitute and longtime acquaintance of Giordano's.

Jones, who pleaded guilty and agreed to testify in exchange for the possibility of a more lenient sentence, is the mother of one of the girls and an aunt to the other.

Jones has said that her daughter was 8 when she first brought the girl to Giordano for sex.

Giordano has been in federal custody since his arrest in July 2001.

Giordano, who is married with three sons, has rejected several plea offers, according to the Connecticut Post of Bridgeport.

He faces life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge in the 18-count indictment, violating the girls' civil rights.

The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.

The other trial was winding down in federal court in New Haven.

Closing arguments were presented Wednesday in the case of Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim, who faces 22 corruption charges alleging he traded city contracts for gifts and money.

The 16-member jury heard 52 witnesses over 32 days, as well as some 75 tape recordings.

The only witness for the defense was Ganim, whose defense was expected to paint the government's 51 witnesses as liars.

With Friday scheduled as an off day for jurors, deliberations were expected to extend into next week.

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