Officer pleads not guilty to hitting woman at abortion rally

July 8, 2022 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I.. (AP) — A Providence police officer accused of assaulting a woman at an abortion-rights protest last month pleaded not guilty to the charges on Friday.

Patrolman Jeann Lugo entered the plea during an arraignment in Providence. He was ordered to have no contact with the complaining witness.

Lugo, 35, was charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct in connection with the confrontation at the Statehouse on June 24. Jennifer Rourke, the chair of the progressive Rhode Island Political Cooperative seeking the Democratic nomination for a state Senate seat, said she was punched in the face at least twice by Lugo, who was off duty at the time.

Lugo was running for the GOP nomination for the same seat Rourke is seeking. He ended his campaign the day after the protest, which was held in response to the decision released the same day by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lugo struck Rourke twice, according to an internal investigation by the Providence Police Department, which alleged that Lugo violated department rules and regulations governing conduct. Providence’s police chief has recommended that Lugo lose his job. He is currently on paid suspension.

Daniel Griffin, Lugo’s attorney, said this month that his client “remains confident that the facts of this situation will be brought to light and show that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.”