A Connecticut woman charged in the US Capitol riot didn’t even know she was on the iconic building’s grounds at the time, her attorney claims.
Victoria Bergeson, 40, of Groton, is facing charges of violating curfew and unlawful entry in Wednesday’s violent unrest in Washington, DC, where she was taken into custody along with her boyfriend as rioters tried to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, the Connecticut Post reported.
“People assume she’s part of that crazed mob,” Bergeson’s attorney, Sam Bogash, told the outlet Saturday. “She was never even close to the building.”
Bergeson was arrested with her boyfriend, 40-year-old Maurico Mendez, at about 7:15 p.m. — or more than hour after a 6 p.m curfew imposed by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, an arrest log shows.
Officers issued three warnings for Bergeson and five other women to “disperse and go inside” prior to the bust. Mendez, meanwhile, was taken into custody at the same time and location, along with eight other men, according to the report.
“I think this has to go to trial,” Bogash said. “For her to be convicted, the government would have to prove that she was knowingly on Capitol grounds when she shouldn’t have been. I don’t think they can prove she knew she was on Capitol grounds.”
Prior to her arrest, Bogash said Bergeson was with 18 other people at the Peace Monument, a 44-foot marble and granite statue on Capitol ground completed in 1878 that commemorates naval deaths during the Civil War, according its website.
“Cars go around it,” Bogash said. “I don’t think half the people in DC know that’s Capitol grounds. They thought they were standing on a traffic circle 100 feet from the lawn that leads up to the Capitol building, but it was Capitol grounds.”
As of early Monday, at least 90 people have been arrested on charges ranging from misdemeanor curfew violations to felony assaults on police officers in Wednesday’s Capitol siege.
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died from injuries he sustained as he fought off rioters, while four others died during the dramatic siege, some of which was livestreamed or shared on social media.
Bergeson faces up to 180 days in jail if convicted of unlawful entry, online records show. Wednesday marked her first arrest, according to Bogash.
Bergeson has also been banned from entering the nation’s capital ahead of her next court date on June 10, which Bogash called “a little extreme,” the Connecticut Post reported.
“Bergeson and Mendez, who were arraigned Thursday, have both pleaded not guilty, the Hartford Courant reported.
The couple had nothing to say when reporters knocked on their door Friday after they returned back to Connecticut, WTNH reported.
With Post wires
Woman arrested in Capitol siege claims she didn’t know she was on building’s grounds The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ New York Post.