THE BRONX -- 39-year-old Christina Brooks hasn’t had an easy time trusting people in the last 30 years.
That’s because her life changed radically in August 1986, when she was entering third grade.
It became a life of punishment and molestation.
That summer, Christina’s mother, NYPD Police Officer Maureen Brooks, was pregnant by her patrol partner from the 113th Precinct in Queens.
Christina didn’t know the partner, Officer Robert Fioretti, had a first wife who’d been living in the Bronx with Fioretti’s two sons.
Christina and her sister moved into Fioretti’s home on City Island late that summer, living with their mother, Fioretti, and his two boys.
“I knew there was a mother of the two boys, but I didn’t know what had happened to her,” Christina Brooks, now 39, told PIX11 in her first television interview.
But the kids at school soon whispered stories about what may have happened to 35-year-old Rita Fioretti, who’d vanished on August 10, 1986.
“They would say things like, ‘You know, that woman Rita is buried in the walls of your house.’”
Thirty years later, Rita Fioretti’s whereabouts are still unknown, although police suspect she was killed.
Her husband, Robert, was fired from the NYPD in the 1980s, because he refused to cooperate with the Missing Persons investigation.
Fioretti was also indicted for bank fraud, for moving $17,000 out of his joint account with Rita.
But he faced far worse charges for what went on inside his City Island home, while his new wife, Maureen Brooks, worked the overnight shift in the NYPD.
“He would have us sitting up on weekends watching cop shows till like 3 in the morning,” Christina Brooks recalled.
“Our bedroom was in the basement of the house….scary, because the boiler room was on the other side of the wall. There was one light with a string.”
Christina Brooks remembered that she and her older sister would be punished for mild infractions. They were just a year apart.
When Christina was 10, she recalled Fioretti starting molesting her. Her sister, age 11, was being abused, too.
“He would touch me and do things, when no one else was around,” Brooks told PIX11. “I would also see him touching my sister, when I was there.”
Brooks told PIX11 things got worse one day in the living room.
“My older sister was being punished at the time in the basement,” Brooks said. She talked about a game Fioretti would play, as he pulled her pants down.
“He’d throw a shoe across the room, told me to go get it, and come back. I would do it. And every time I did it, his pants would come down slowly even more, until he finally got me on his lap and held me there.”
Christina Brooks said she felt some pain. It was the one time the abuse had resulted in rape.
When Brooks’ older sister was 13, she ran away from home. Some teachers had become aware of problems in the Fioretti home. The sister was taken to a local precinct in the Bronx, and police showed up at Fioretti’s door.
The cops told Officer Maureen Brooks to bring her second daughter, Christina, to the precinct. When Christina got there, her sister was already being questioned and she was taken to a second room.
Christina Brooks recalls hearing her mother outside the door.
“She was yelling and she was like, ‘No, they’re lying.’”
Detectives told Officer Maureen Brooks she could go home, but she wasn’t taking the girls with her.
“And she turned and left, didn’t even say goodbye,” Christina Brooks remembered.
The three girls living in Fioretti’s household — including the baby girl he’d fathered with Maureen Brooks — were moved to a loving foster home.
A couple of years later, Christina Brooks met her biological father and ended up living with him and his second wife.
Robert Fioretti was ultimately indicted for rape and bank fraud.
He cut a deal to plead guilty, spending nearly 20 years in prison. He was released in 2009 and is required to register with the local sex offender’s registry, wherever he lives.
Christina Brooks became a mother to two daughters but has struggled with emotional intimacy.
“My excuse has been, ‘If my mother can leave me, a man can leave me! There is no such thing as unconditional love. Until I had my own children.”
Still, Christina Brooks did seek to repair the fractured relationship with her mother, Maureen.
Maureen Brooks still lives in Fioretti’s home on City Island, although they long ago parted ways.
She had stayed with him through his criminal proceedings, while the girls were in foster care.
“It’s not like we don’t talk about it; I’ve tried,” Christina told PIX11, her voice choked with emotion. “I forgave her, but I don’t forget it.”
When PIX11 asked Christina if it was difficult to forgive a mother who didn’t protect her, she replied, “I had to, because it ate away so much of my emotional stability.”
Brooks has a good job and told us she’s been through years of therapy. She told PIX11 her mother is great as a grandmother and “she’s a good mother to me.”
Brooks said forgiveness was easier after her mother survived a bad car accident that left her with a lot of memory loss.
Robert Fioretti, now in his late 60s, travels between Florida and New York, and he’s supposed to register with authorities in each jurisdiction.
Christina Brooks would like to see someone come forward with information about Rita, whose body was never found.
And she remains eternally grateful to the family that took all three sisters in, back in the late 80s.
“This family: they heard about us. They’re our angels.”