Cirillo, former Montco defense lawyer, gets up to 30 years for raping client

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He thanked his wife for standing by him. He tried to shift some blame to others. He admitted he was an alcoholic and drug addict who struggled to live in the shadow of his late father, a prominent judge.

But as he was sentenced Monday to 10 to 30 years in prison, Vincent A. Cirillo Jr. insisted he was not a rapist.

“I have destroyed the Cirillo name that my father sacrificed and worked a lifetime to build,” he told Judge Steven T. O’Neill in a Norristown courtroom. “I had way too much to drink that night, and a lot was going on in my life at that point.”

In a hearing that lasted hours, Cirillo, 58, of Gladwyne, delivered a rambling account of his life and the case against him. A jury convicted him in February of raping a 22-year-old client while she was unconscious. He maintained that the encounter was consensual.

As the victim sat feet away in the courtroom, Cirillo cast doubt on any trauma she may have endured, saying that she had had sex with another man days after the rape and that she had since had a child. Descriptions of her pain and inability to be with other men, he said, were simply “all the buzzwords.”

The woman, whom he had represented in a custody battle, did not speak. But her mother and ex-boyfriend testified that since the August 2015 rape, she had lost custody of her children, struggled to trust people, seen a therapist, and fought to sleep.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment to tell you you destroyed my family,” her mother, sobbing, told Cirillo. “You’re a sick, perverted man. It’s about time you got caught.”

A prosecutor also fired back at Cirillo’s claims. The woman had to “listen to this rapist continue to spread malicious lies about what everyone else seems to know occurred,” Assistant District Attorney M. Stewart Ryan told the judge. “He could almost be a case study about why it’s difficult for a sex-assault victim to come forward.”

At one point, Cirillo did apologize to the woman and her parents, saying he prays for them and hopes she regains custody of her children.

He said his own life became a nightmare after his arrest. His friends and family were ashamed of him, he lost his law license, and he has been jailed since last year. He portrayed the charges as his rock-bottom moment — but only after years of struggle.

Cirillo said his father and namesake, a Superior Court judge, did not approve of his marriage. Forced to choose between his parents and his wife, Betsy, he said, he was shut off from the rest of his family as he tried to build a legal practice and support their children.

“It became us against the world,” he said.

Cirillo said he began to sink into depression after his father’s 2000 death, and as his own son got into legal trouble and he faced marital problems. By the time he was arrested, he said, he was drinking and using cocaine regularly.

“The combination of drugs and alcohol began to impair my ability to think clearly,” he said.

Alcohol impaired his judgment that August 2015 night, he said, when he went to his client’s home to discuss her cases, drank with her, and then performed sexual acts when she was too intoxicated to consent.

“I truly believed that our actions on [that] Monday night were consensual,” he told the judge.

His regrets, he said, include picking up the phone that evening, failing to simply leave her home earlier, and embarrassing his family.

“I’m so sorry for my behavior over the years,” Cirillo told his wife. “I failed miserably and it took its toll on me.”

O’Neill sharply rebuked Cirillo as he handed down the sentence, telling the disbarred lawyer that he had exerted inappropriate power and control over his vulnerable client.

He called Cirillo’s account of the rape, both on the witness stand at trial and during his sentencing hearing, “convoluted, distorted or delusional.”

“It most certainly wasn’t a case of crossing the line,” O’Neill said. “This was rape.”

Cirillo pleaded guilty to charges in the case last year, but withdrew his plea and asked for a trial. In February, a jury convicted him of rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. His lawyer, Nino Tinari, said Monday he planned to appeal the verdict.

As he was led away to prison in handcuffs, Cirillo told reporters he regretted withdrawing his guilty plea.

“The whole matter,” he said, “is very tragic.”

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