SARANAC LAKE - The 13-year-old girl who claimed she was forcibly raped by Michael Scaringe Jr. changed her story three weeks after his arrest, saying she expected to have sex with the then-Saranac Lake Youth Center director when she went to his house and was "semi-okay" with it.
That's what the girl said in a Jan. 19 statement given to state police Investigator James Monty. A copy of the statement was included with court papers submitted this month by Scaringe's attorney, Brian Barrett of Lake Placid, in support of a motion to dismiss a four-count Franklin County Grand Jury indictment against his client.
The girl, whom the Enterprise is not naming because the newspaper does not identify the victims of sexual assault, had initially claimed that Scaringe lured her into his house and bedroom, climbed on top of her, held her down and raped her.
Michael Scaringe Jr. leaves the Harrietstown courtroom after a felony hearing on Jan. 4.
(Enterprise file photo — Chris Knight)
The girl's Jan. 19 statement, however, tells a different story.
"When Michael and I were in his bedroom and he started taking off his clothes I knew what was going to happen," the statement reads. "I was okay with him taking off his clothes and was okay when he took off my clothes. I knew we were going to have sex and I was semi-okay with that."
Within a short time, however, the girl changed her mind.
"I told him to stop, but he didn't," she told police. "I told him to stop because it hurt but he didn't until he was finished."
Later in the statement, the girl says she didn't want to lose Scaringe as a friend and "knew if I told anyone about it we couldn't be friends anymore.
"I got scared and didn't want to tell my mother that Mike and I had sex, so I told her he raped me," she said.
The statement explains why Scaringe, 61, was indicted in June on a lesser charge of second-degree rape, a class D felony, after being initially charged with first-degree rape, a class B felony, when he was arrested by police Jan. 1. Any person over 18 who has sex with someone under 15 can be charged with second-degree rape because the law says anyone under 15 is too young to consent. First-degree rape, however, is defined as sex by "forcible compulsion."
Barrett claims the statement, and several others made by the girl that are referenced in his motion papers, are proof that her account of what allegedly happened Dec. 23 is unreliable.
"There were at least four written statements she had given and sworn to under oath, she also testified at the preliminary hearing under oath, and she directly contradicts herself and later admits she had lied under oath in her prior sworn statements," Barrett said. "That seems to be indicative of the story collapsing."
Barrett acknowledged that what the girl alleges happened in the Jan. 19 statement would still constitute second-degree rape, but he said the fact that she changed her story casts doubt on everything she's told police. Apart from the statements and her hearing testimony, Barrett said the prosecution has presented no other evidence in their case against Scaringe.
"The defendant's arrest was based on the uncorroborated claims of a 13 year old child," Barrett wrote in support of his motion to dismiss the indictment. "There exists an absolute dearth of physical evidence, consistent credible testimony, or other evidence to corroborate the complaint's assertions under any version."
Among other things, Barrett is asking the court to suppress any statements Scaringe made to law enforcement after his arrest and wants the court to prevent the prosecution from asking any questions about Scaringe's prior arrest record, conviction record "or about any prior immoral, vicious, or other bad acts."
"The presentation of such information to the jury in this case would greatly prejudice the defendant, far outweighing any probative value such information might have," he said.
In 1995, Scaringe was arrested for allegedly molesting a 14-year-old girl at a St. Petersburg, Fla. middle school, where he was working as a substitute band teacher. He was ultimately acquitted at trial.
The Enterprise asked Barrett to provide Scaringe's account of what happened the day of the alleged rape, but he declined to do so, citing the attorney-client code of conduct.
"Whether it comes out at trial or after the charges are disposed of, Michael's story will be told," Barrett said. "But by law we can't put evidence out there that's not on the record right now."
Assistant Franklin County District Attorney Jack Delehanty, who's prosecuting the case, said he has read Barrett's motion papers but said he can't make public comments about a motion that's pending before the court.
Scaringe, who went to school in Saranac Lake when he was known as Michael Josephson, was hired in September as the youth center's director and fired a week after his arrest. He had also served as a substitute teacher at St. Bernard's Catholic elementary school and had tried to be a substitute in the Saranac Lake Central School District, but superintendent Gerald Goldman blocked him from teaching.
Scaringe has been living with relatives in the Albany area while awaiting future court proceedings, Barrett said.
The other statements
Three other statements the girl gave to police are included in Barrett's motion papers.
Her initial statement, dated Dec. 28, describes the circumstances leading up to and including the alleged rape.
In a second statement, given to police Dec. 30, the girl describes the layout and contents of Scaringe's home. She also tells police that Scaringe would frequently e-mail her using the youth center's e-mail address, and that he allegedly bought her a TracFone and would call her and send her text messages on it.
In a Jan. 14 statement, the girl says Scaringe gave her a ride to school several times and frequently tried to kiss and touch her.
"Michael would always try to kiss me but I would always push him away and then he would grab my leg and massage it," she told police.
The motion papers also include a statement given to police by Nicole Buckley, coordinator of North Star Behavioral Health Services' Enhanced Mentor Program, who met with the girl on Dec. 23, before the alleged rape that same day, to discuss goals and her plans for the upcoming school break.
The girl asked Buckley to take her to the youth center so Scaringe could give her a ride home.
"I told (her) the only way she could be dropped off and transported by Mike was if her mother gave verbal consent to me over the phone and also only if I could first meet Mike and spend some time getting to know him," Buckley told police.
After taking the girl to the youth center and talking to Scaringe for about 25 minutes, Buckley says the girl asked if Scaringe could take her home.
"Although I knew that she had spent a great deal of time with Mike and that it was assumed that he was a safe individual, a call was made to (the girl's mother) from my phone, in the presence of Mike and (the girl)," Buckley's statement reads.
The girl's mother told Buckley that Scaringe could give her daughter a ride home, according to the statement.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Editor's note: We had to block comments on this story after one person brought up an unrelated criminal case and continued to do so after those comments were deleted. In the future, please remember to keep your comments to the story at hand.)
(Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that second-degree rape is a class D felony, not a misdemeanor.)