The deputy mayor of Kings Point pleaded not guilty Thursday to harassing a woman who claims he touched her inappropriately and made suggestive comments to her inside a synagogue.
David Harounian, 74, entered the plea in First District Court in Hempstead and was released on his own recognizance.
Harounian signed an order agreeing to stay away from the woman, Joanna Cronin, 43, of Great Neck.
Defense attorney Melvyn Roth, of Garden City, argued that the order was not necessary. "There was no violence here, or anything like that at all," Roth told Judge Colin O'Donnell.
Harounian, who owns a rug business in Manhattan, left the courthouse without commenting.
Cronin said earlier this week that Harounian approached her on Oct. 26 as she sat in Temple Israel of Great Neck on Old Mill Road and asked her a sexually suggestive question. About a half-hour later, as they were both leaving the temple, she said he approached her again, and this time took her arm and moved it against her chest.
Roth said outside court that Harounian has been a member of the temple for many years and had never met the woman before.
"This woman was in temple at the same time he was," Roth said. "Apparently, she was sitting in the same row he was sitting. There could have been some conversation, but certainly not what she is alleging, not at all. There was no conversation even coming close to what is alleged in the criminal complaint."
Harounian is charged with second-degree harassment, a violation that carries up to 15 days in jail, his lawyer said. He is due back in court on Dec. 19.