FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Millionaire real estate developer Louis Bianculli, who is charged with molesting and torturing his former stepdaughter over a period of several years, will remain behind bars for the time being, a Broward County judge ordered Wednesday.
Bianculli was expected to walk out of jail this week after Broward Circuit Judge Michael Rothschild made a surprise decision to grant him bond based on a claim that Bianculli required knee surgery.
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The Broward Sheriff's Office and its private health care provider, Armor Correctional Health Services, disagreed and refused to do it.
That prompted Rothschild, who has ruled that Bianculli is a danger to the community and a flight risk, to grant Bianculli a $1 million bond to get the knee replacement, with no stipulation that he return behind bars after the surgery.
The order frightened the victim, according to testimony, and infuriated her family, prompting a courthouse protest Tuesday morning.
Rothschild then granted the victim's attorney, David Weinstein, an emergency hearing Wednesday morning. At the hearing, a hobbling Bianculli carried a cane, something he'd never carried in previous hearings during which he seemed to walk just fine, sometimes with shackles.
"We're here because a now 70-year-old man molested and sexually assaulted my client," Weinstein said. "She still fears the defendant for what he did to her."
Weinstein argued that the victim had a right to be heard before Rothschild made the decision to grant the bond order. Rothschild agreed.
"What I needed to do and what I failed to do was balance the rights of the victim to be heard," Rothschild said. "The victim was not afforded a full opportunity to offer any additional evidence, and I'm going to allow the victim to have that opportunity."
Weinstein, on the victim's behalf, testified that she remained frightened of Bianculli and experienced great anxiety when she learned that he'd been granted bond.
He said the fact that Bianculli had violated conditions of his bond numerous times after Rothschild put him on house arrest last year, prompting Rothschild to revoke the bond and put him back in jail, provided no comfort to the victim and further alleged that Bianculli had "stalked" her in the past, prior to his arrest.
"The defendant had in fact driven to a home where she was living, had gotten out of his vehicle, was apparently in the backyard, was chased off by some dogs and got back into his vehicle," Weinstein said. "And that is something that sits heavily upon her that if he were released the potential exists that something like that could occur."
Rothschild, who stayed the bond order, said his ruling that Bianculli required the knee surgery stood, but that he would revisit the conditions for his release and would make a final decision in the coming days.
Weinstein said the primary concern was Rothschild's decision to allow Bianculli to remain out of jail after the knee surgery. Weinstein said his client wants Bianculli to be returned to jail after the surgery.
"Our concern at this point is how long this is going to drag out," Weinstein said after the hearing. "What I hope that the judge will do is that he will convert this to a burden rightfully back on the defendant to present reasons why a person who is a danger to the community, a risk of flight, and who has substantial assets, shouldn't be held in custody after he's received the surgery."
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