A Montgomery County woman hired Vincent Cirillo Jr. in 2015 to represent her in a criminal case.
But the tables were turned Tuesday as Cirillo's trial began on charges that he raped his then-22-year-old client.
The woman was "highly intoxicated and semi-conscious" as Cirillo performed sex acts and took photos of her in her bed in August 2015, Assistant District Attorney M. Stewart Ryan told jurors during opening arguments Tuesday morning in Norristown.
Cirillo, a longtime defense lawyer and son of the late Superior Court Judge Vincent A. Cirillo, is facing five felony-level charges for rape, sexual assault, and other crimes. Wearing a suit and seated with his lawyers, he showed no emotion as his trial began.
Cirillo previously pleaded guilty to the charges against him, but withdrew that plea in December, on the day he was scheduled to be sentenced.
His attorney, Nino Tinari, told jurors Tuesday that Cirillo is innocent because his sexual contact with the woman was consensual. He portrayed the accuser as someone who worked as a stripper and exotic dancer, and invited Cirillo to her bedroom after they drank alcohol together at her home.
"It's not an unconscious young lady, but one who consented to have contact with Mr. Cirillo," Tinari said.
Ryan argued that the woman was not in a state to consent.
Paul Buckwalter, who was her boyfriend at the time, testified that he found her unresponsive in her bed that night after Cirillo left.
Buckwalter began crying on the witness stand after reviewing photos he took of her that night, which he said were meant to document her highly intoxicated and unresponsive state.
"She's never, ever, been in the condition she was in," he said.
After a warning from Judge Steven T. O'Neill that the images would be graphic and potentially disturbing, the jury of six men and six women also saw the photos that Buckwalter took of the woman, unclothed and unresponsive as he tried to give her a shower to wake her up.
Buckwalter described taking the woman to the hospital that night. She did not receive rape-kit testing or drug testing, he said, because she did not want police to get involved while she was fighting for custody of her children. He said he later helped her make a decision to go to police.
Tinari suggested during his opening argument that the woman reported the allegations only because "the boyfriend was enraged" over the contact with Cirillo.
Prosecutors allege that Cirillo admitted to sexual contact with the woman five days later, as she asked him about it with the assistance of detective surveillance.
Ryan told jurors that they will see other photos later in the trial that Cirillo took while sexually assaulting the woman.
"These photographs, taken over the period of the sexual assault, demonstrate a visibly unconscious victim that that man was talking about performing sex acts on," Ryan said.
Cirillo is also facing charges in a separate but related case, for allegedly impersonating the woman's lawyer to obtain confidential records as he awaited trial. He has been held in the Montgomery County prison since his arrest in that case last fall, and he lost his law license in November. Cirillo's wife and daughter sat in the front row of the courtroom Tuesday.