- Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2015

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) - A Long Island police officer who authorities say groped a woman after she ignored him when he threatened to issue her a summons during an off-duty encounter pleaded not guilty Thursday to sexual abuse and official misconduct charges.

Hempstead Village police Officer Louis Arcila confronted a woman inside a restaurant on June 28, apparently upset that her 3-year-old daughter was wearing only a diaper, acting District Attorney Madeline Singas said. When the woman ignored him, Arcila, who had his police badge attached to his shorts, identified himself as an officer, commented on how the child she was holding was dressed and told her he could give her a ticket, Singas said.

Prosecutors said the woman, whose name was not released, paid for her food and walked out of the restaurant, but Arcila followed her to her car. He opened her passenger’s door, sat down in the car, leaned over and grabbed at her breast, the district attorney said. When the woman knocked away Arcila’s hand, he moved it to her inner thigh and then groped her breast again, authorities said.

“He used his shield as entree to this woman and then put her in a vulnerable position in her own vehicle in front of her own children,” Singas said.

Arcila’s attorney, William Petrillo, said his client denies the accusations. He called the arrest a politically motivated prosecution before an election for district attorney. Singas, who has been Nassau County’s acting district attorney for the last 10 months and is being challenged for the job on Tuesday, said the case is being thoroughly investigated and disputed the allegation the arrest was related to the election.

“It is most troubling to us that these actions would be taken by this office, at this time,” Petrillo said. “It’s wrong, it’s unfair, it’s unjust and it’s all at the expense of a police officer who, like the evidence will show, like their own witness will admit, did not commit these crimes.”

Petrillo says the woman has since recanted her story, which prosecutors vehemently deny.

Arcila declined to comment Thursday after being released without bail. His union released a statement saying it “is confident that the officer will be vindicated once all of the facts are presented in court.”

Hempstead Village Police Chief Michael McGowan did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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