Aide to Carrié Solages charged with misdemeanor groping

Derek Lawrence, 49, of Elmont, was arrested Monday, Derek Lawrence, 49, of Elmont, was arrested Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Nassau Legis. Carrié Solages' office in the County Executive and Legislative Building and charged with third-degree sexual abuse and forcible touching, both misdemeanors. Photo Credit: NCPD

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An aide to Nassau Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) is facing misdemeanor charges of groping a female staffer in their Mineola office earlier this month.

Derek Lawrence, 49, of Elmont, was arrested Monday at Solages' office in the County Executive and Legislative Building and charged with third-degree sexual abuse and forcible touching, both misdemeanors.

Records show the alleged incident occurred on Feb. 18. According to a criminal complaint, Lawrence hugged and kissed the unidentified victim without her consent. Lawrence rubbed his genitals against her, kissed her neck, felt her breast and made a sexually explicit remark, the complaint states.

Lawrence pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Nassau District Court in Hempstead. He was released on $5,000 bail and ordered to stay away from the unidentified female.

Democrats suspended Lawrence without pay from his $32,000-a-year position on Wednesday. He has worked full time for Solages, a second-term Democrat, since April.

Solages referred all calls to Lauren Corcoran-Doolin, a spokeswoman for Democrats in the county legislature. She declined to comment on the case, citing privacy concerns.

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"Rest assured that the safety of our employees is always the highest priority," said Corcoran-Doolin. "That is why appropriate action was immediately taken to ensure the safety of all legislative staff."

Lawrence, who is first vice president of the Elmont Cardinals Sports Club, one of the county's largest youth sports organizations, referred calls to his Bellmore-based attorney Eric Sachs, who declined to comment.

Records show Lawrence pleaded guilty in January 2011 to a charge of second-degree assault. He was sentenced to 1 day in jail and his victim, who was not identified, received an eight-year order of protection.

Matt Fernando, a spokesman for GOP majority in the county legislature, said there is no requirement that legislative employees undergo a background check before being hired.

Nassau spokesman Brian Nevin said background checks are performed on all county employees but that the legislature sets its own policies.

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