Emily Constant, who will succeed Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota after his imminent retirement, supervised domestic violence and child sex abuse cases for years.
Constant, 63, of Port Jefferson, has been Spota’s chief assistant since 2010. Before that, she was chief of investigations, the role held until Thursday by Christopher McPartland, who was indicted along with Spota on federal charges of obstruction of justice. Unless the governor appoints a successor, the chief assistant succeeds a district attorney who leaves office.
For most of her 38-year career in the office, however, Constant tried sex crimes cases and supervised other prosecutors handling such cases. Lawyers who worked for her expressed confidence in her ability to run the office until a new district attorney takes office Jan. 1.
“It’s only two months, but I’m sure Emily will do a great job,” said defense attorney Donald Mates Jr. of Hauppauge, who worked for Constant in the domestic violence and child sex crimes bureau. “She’s very knowledgeable. She taught me many things that made me the attorney that I am today.”
Mates said Thursday that child sex cases are difficult and sensitive to handle.
“She literally sat down with me and taught me what to do,” he said. “She was involved in everything. She knew how to evaluate a case instantly, and correctly.”
A graduate of Pace University’s law school, Constant led Spota’s investigation into sexual misconduct by Catholic priests in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. She also led the corruption investigation that led to the dissolution of the Village of Greenport police department, and prosecuted serial rapist Scott Carroll in 1988.
She also served in the office’s appellate bureau.
Constant declined through a spokesman to comment.
Some questioned whether Constant, who has worked as a supervisor for Spota throughout his 16 years in office, should be the acting district attorney.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” said Dan Russo, defense attorney and administrator of the Suffolk assigned counsel defender program.
Christopher Brocato, president of the Suffolk Criminal Bar Association, said Constant is experienced and knowledgeable, but he was surprised that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo did not act to bring in an outsider to run the office for the next two months.
He and others have said the governor has the authority to immediately appoint whomever wins the election as district attorney for the remainder of Spota’s term.
Emily Constant career
--Hired as an assistant district attorney in 1979.
--Worked as a prosecutor in the rackets, appeals and major crime bureaus.
--Prosecuted Scott Carroll, the South Shore serial rapist in 1988.
--Served as deputy bureau chief of the appeals and major crime bureaus.
--Promoted to chief of the family crime bureau in 1995.
--As chief of investigations, led probes of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, the now-disbanded Greenport village police department and the county office of Child Protective Services.
--Became chief assistant district attorney in 2010.