STAMFORD -- Jury selection began Wednesday morning in the trial of a Norwalk police officer accused of having sex with a friend's young daughter in Greenwich.
A panel of about 20 men and women were ushered into a fourth-floor courtroom, where jury selection began for Anthony Santo, who been an officer for 18 years before he was arrested by Greenwich police in October 2009 on charges of second-degree sexual assault of a minor under the age of 16 and risk of injury to a minor.
The trial for Santo, 44, an Eagle Scout who grew up in Norwalk, will begin on Sept. 19 or 20, Judge Richard Comerford told the panel.
The trial, expected to take a week, will require six jurors and a few alternates.
According to the charge, Santo, who was placed on unpaid leave by former Police Chief Harry Rilling following his arrest, is accused of having sexual intercourse with the girl from 2003 to November 2007, Comerford said. He is also accused of having intimate contact with the girl in a sexual and indecent manner during the same period.
Soon after his arrest, Santo pleaded not guilty to the charges.
While Comerford spoke to the perspective jurors, outlining their duties should they be picked, Santo leaned over and talked to his attorney, Gary Mastronardi, several times. As Comerford read the particulars of the sex assault charge, Santo gave Mastronardi a quizzical look.
According to Santo's 18-page arrest affidavit, police discovered the sexual assault after the girl's boyfriend reported to a hot line in July 2009 that he was upset that Santo was about to take his girlfriend to Florida.
The boyfriend told police the girl said to him Santo had touched her and he worried that Santo would abuse her during the trip.
When the parents asked Santo what the allegations were all about, he told them the girl had been touched inappropriately by a teenage boy some years before and that he had only "pass(ed) his hand over the spots where the boy had touched," the affidavit said. The father asked investigators to drop the case.
The girl told police that Santo touched her underneath her clothing during a blackout in 2006. She said that she did not know the touching was wrong and felt guilty for telling police about the incident, the affidavit said.
"He doesn't have a girlfriend or a wife, only two cats," she told police, the affidavit said. She also said that Santo made her model swimsuits for him, and told her she needed someone to teach her about sex to please her boyfriend, the affidavit said.
In 2009, police spoke to another woman who reported Santo began touching her 20 years earlier when she was 11 or 12 and began having sex with her when she was 14 and he was 22, the affidavit said.
During a telephone call with Greenwich police, Santo blamed the revelations about his behavior on the girl's boyfriend, with whom he has a "mutual dislike."