A Cook County jury convicted a Chicago attorney of sex assault and sex abuse charges Friday night in connection with an attack on a woman in her Gold Coast hotel room in 2012.
Prosecutors alleged that Anthony Bergamino Jr. had covered his hands with lip balm after his arrest to destroy potential DNA evidence. During closing arguments earlier Friday, a prosecutor ridiculed Bergamino’s claim from the witness stand that he was the “son of a germophobe” who had used Carmex, a lip balm, to clean his hands while being booked at a Near North District police station.
“He’s not the MacGyver of germophobes, folks. He’s a rapist destroying evidence,” Assistant State’s Attorney Tracy Senica told jurors.
A jury of eight men and four women deliberated less than six hours before finding Bergamino, 51, guilty of criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse. He was acquitted of residential burglary charges in connection with the attack. A woman who arrived in court with Bergamino began sobbing after the verdict was read.
Bergamino was immediately taken into custody. He faces anywhere from 5 to 18 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Senica said Bergamino was “prowling” the hallways at the upscale W Chicago Lakeshore Hotel “looking for an opportunity” early in the morning on August 7, 2012. The prosecutor suggested Bergamino had followed the 24-year-old victim to her room from the hotel bar.
Bergamino’s account – that he met the woman earlier in the night and she welcomed him to her room – sounded like the “poorly-written plot to an adult movie,” Senica said. Bergamino testified they kissed and touched each other, but there was no sex.
The woman testified that she had briefly left her room door propped open by extending the lock for a male friend who was a few moments away when she was sexually assaulted by a man who entered her room.
Bergamino’s attorney, Jeffrey Urdangen, told jurors they would have to believe his client turned into a sexual predator out of a “cheap Youtube horror satire” after having a few drinks that night and somehow happened to find an unlocked door with a young woman inside at a hotel with more than 500 rooms on more than 30 floors.
“This is a non-existent crime,” he said, telling jurors the woman had told “outright whoppers” on the witness stand.
“He was obviously stupid,” Urdangen said of his client. “But these are not crimes.”
A police officer testified that he was filling out paperwork at the station when he noticed that Bergamino, who had one hand cuffed to a wall and a tube of Carmex taken from his pockets next to him, had his hands “shined up like a glazed donut” and smelled of Carmex.
Bergamino said he rubbed Carmex on his hands after he used the police station bathroom and found no running water, soap or towels. “I know it’s anti-microbial,” he testified.
Prosecutors said Bergamino refused to let a police technician swab his hand for evidence.