LOCKPORT — A Niagara Falls attorney who served as managing editor for the local publication the Niagara Reporter was arraigned Monday morning on a 12-count indictment charging him with rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and patronizing a person for prostitution.
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announced the details of the charges against 27-year-old Falls attorney Nicholas D. D’Angelo who was indicted by a Niagara County grand jury. The Erie County District Attorney’s Office was appointed as a special prosecutor after Niagara County District Attorney and judge-elect Caroline Wojtaszek recused her office from the case.
According to Flynn, D'Angelo faces the following charges under the indictment:
• One count of rape in the first degree, a blass “B” felony
• Two counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree, class “B” felonies
• One count of sexual abuse in the first degree, a class “D” felony
• Two counts of criminal sexual act in the third degree, class “E” felonies
• Two counts of rape in the third degree, class “E” felonies
• One count of unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, a class “A” misdemeanor
• Three counts of patronizing a person for prostitution in the third degree, class “A” misdemeanors.
If convicted on all charges, prosecutors said D’Angelo faces a maximum of 35 years in prison.
Prosecutors allege that in the fall of 2016, D'Angelo met one of the victims through an online dating website and picked her up at her residence for an arranged date. He is accused of pulling over at an unknown location in the City of Niagara Falls and restraining the victim by locking the doors to his vehicle. It is further alleged that the defendant engaged in sexual intercourse and sexual conduct with the victim by forcible compulsion inside his vehicle.
Prosecutors also contend, that on Oct. 26, 2018, D'Angelo subjected a second female victim to sexual contact by forcible compulsion inside his law office in the City of Lockport.
D'Angelo is also accused of patronizing a third female victim for prostitution. It is alleged that on three separate occasions between Aug. 28, 2019 and Oct. 7, 2019, D'Angelo engaged in sexual conduct and sexual intercourse with the victim at a location in the City of North Tonawanda and at the defendant’s law office in the City of Niagara Falls. On two of those occasions, the defendant, being 21 years or older, is accused of having sexual intercourse and engaging in sexual conduct with the victim, who at the time was less than 17 years old.
D'Angelo was arraigned Monday morning in the courtroom of Niagara County Judge Richard Kloch. The arraignment, a procedure that is normally open to the public, was closed to members of the press and others.
Following his arraignment, D'Angelo exited Kloch's courtroom with his attorney, Brian Melber, an attorney with the Buffalo law firm, Personius Melber. In response to questions from reporters, Melber said the proceedings were done in private due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
Melber declined to discuss what transpired in Kloch's courtroom or the case itself, indicating that his office would issue a statement to the press at some point later Monday.
In August, the newspaper reported that D'Angelo was the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by a Falls woman and a former client of his private law practice. The lawsuit, filed in Erie County, which is pending in New York State Supreme Court in Niagara County, accused D'Angelo of exhibiting “discriminatory and illegal behavior” over the course of a seven-month period when he represented his female accuser on legal matters in Falls City and Town of Wheatfield courts. In claims beginning in 2019 and continuing through early 2020, the suit accuses D’Angelo of “sexual assault, battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, breach of contract and public accommodation discrimination.”
The lawsuit, which accused D'Angelo of sexually harassing conduct, sexual assault and rape, triggered a criminal probe by local investigators and the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
D'Angelo previously denied the allegations and said he welcomed the investigation which he suggested in September could lead to criminal charges against his accuser for filing a false report and perjury.
The woman who filed the lawsuit is represented by Buffalo-based attorney Lindy Korn who has previously declined to comment to the Gazette beyond the claims in the lawsuit.
Wojtaszek, who currently serves as Niagara County's District attorney and who was elected as a county judge in November, recused herself from the D'Angelo case and asked for the appointment of a special prosecutor in the mattered due to D'Angelo's work as what she has described as a "volunteer" for her judicial campaign.
D’Angelo, who was released on his own recognizance, is scheduled to return to court on Dec. for a virtual pre-trial conference.