Friday, June 09, 2017
DAMN THOSE SLEEPWALKING FINGERS
By Rebecca Rosenberg
New York Post
June 7, 2017
A Manhattan man stumbled into his roommate’s bedroom and molested his sleeping bikini-model girlfriend — but it wasn’t his fault because he was sleepwalking, defense lawyers argued in his misdemeanor sex abuse trial Wednesday.
It was supposed to be a romantic vacation in New York for the girlfriend until she awoke to find her boyfriend’s roommate Nick Liu, 27, on top of her, the woman, whose name is being withheld, told jurors.
Shane Payne had flown his girlfriend in from Florida Sept. 11, 2015, and after the couple tossed back a few drinks at the Lower East Side bar Libation, they returned to his Stuy Town apartment and had sex, he told jurors.
She fell asleep, and he went to the living room to read a book, he testified in Manhattan Criminal Courtbefore Judge Steven Statsinger.
The woman awoke to find Liu kissing her neck and molesting her, she testified.
“Stop, Stop!” she demanded, as she pushed him off of her.
“The next thing I remember is being violently shaken by [my girlfriend], and she’s screaming, ‘Nick fingered me!’” said Payne, glaring at the defendant. “She’s in hysterics. I wake up and storm into Nick’s room.”
He said his pal of four years responded, “I’m so sorry, I can’t believe I did this.”
The horrified brunette, who has posed for a Hooters calendar and dabbled in professional bodybuilding, hopped on the next flight home.
Liu’s mom and girlfriend took the stand in his defense. His mother, Lisa Philips, a New Jersey kindergarten teacher, told jurors her son has had a sleep disorder since he was a young boy and frequently wandered the house in a sleepwalking stupor.
Defense lawyer Dan Ollen asked her to describe these episodes.
“His dad and I would wake up and he’d be in our room lost, staring off into space,” she said.
On cross-examination, the fragile mother broke down in tears when Assistant District Attorney Mimi Mairs indelicately asked, “Was there ever a time when your son was sleepwalking that he put his fingers in your vagina or your daughter’s?”
Philips was aghast and began sobbing. “That’s awful!” she said. “What is wrong with you?”
Liu’s loyal girlfriend of 5 years, Alexandra Berg, took the stand next. She told jurors that the two met at Georgetown University, and she learned early in their relationship he had sleep disturbances.
She sheepishly said he grabs her breasts and vagina about twice a month in his sleep, as Liu’s mother, father and sister uncomfortably watched from the gallery.
“The first few times it happened, I didn’t know he was asleep,” she said. “He woke up during it, and you could see his eyes going from unconscious to confused.”
Berg said immediately after the attack on the Florida model, a distraught Liu called her.
“He felt horrible about what happened,” she said. He moved out of the apartment the following weekend, she added, because he “wanted to live alone to ensure nothing like this would happen again.”
He’s charged with one count each of forcible touching and third-degree sex abuse and faces up to a year in prison if convicted.