SARANAC LAKE - The alleged victim in the Michael Scaringe rape case took the stand Thursday, describing in graphic detail the alleged sexual encounter between the two in the bedroom of the former Saranac Lake Youth Center director's home on Dec. 23, 2009.
The girl also told the jury how she confided in Scaringe about her troubled home life, describing him variously as a father figure, a friend, and someone she thought she was in love with.
It was the first time the girl, who's now 15-years-old, has seen Scaringe, 63, since she testified at a preliminary hearing in early January 2010, just days after his arrest. Scaringe has since been indicted on charges of second-degree rape, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
The Enterprise is not releasing the girl's name or information about where she lives now or lived in the past because the newspaper does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault, directly or indirectly.
Wearing a short-sleeve pink blouse and khaki slacks, the girl nervously twiddled her hands in her lap and looked down at the ground between questions. Across the room, Scaringe, wearing a light grey suit, sat slightly slouched in his chair at the defense table, with his hands folded in front of him.
Responding to questions from Franklin County Chief Assistant District Attorney Jack Delehanty, the girl said Scaringe offered to give her a ride home from the youth center on the afternoon of Dec. 23. But before he drove her home, she said they traveled to Scaringe's house so he could pick up his two dogs and a pair of suitcases, as he was heading out of town for the holidays.
The girl said she waited outside in Scaringe's car until he asked her to come inside and help him with a suitcase.
"He asked me to go upstairs to grab the suitcase," said the girl, pausing several times and holding her hand to her forehead as she described what happened next. "I was at the top of the stairs, and he was right behind me. He, like, nudged me toward the bedroom."
Scaringe started taking off his clothes, which the girl said she was "OK with, at first." She said he had an erection, and described what Scaringe looked like in the nude to the jury, including what she called a birthmark-like extra flap of skin near his penis.
"Then he pushed me down onto the bed and got on top of me," the girl testified. "He had me put his hand on his penis."
The two had sexual intercourse, but after a while the girl said she asked Scaringe to stop because it hurt.
"He didn't stop until he was finished," she said.
Afterwards, the two got dressed, and the girl told Scaringe to take her home. She described the car ride as "kind of quiet, but I felt like we were still friends."
Earlier, the girl told the jury how she met Scaringe through the youth center, where he served as director beginning in September 2009. She said the two talked frequently, often about her family troubles.
"He was the only person I could come talk to about it," she said. "It was a rough time."
Scaringe would often give her rides home, to cheerleading practices or sports games. Asked by Delehanty if Scaringe ever touched her while the two were in the car, the girl said he had tried to kiss her a few times and would massage her arm up and down.
"I just tried to ignore it or tried to block it out sometimes," the girl said. "It just wasn't comfortable. It was creepy in some ways, but we were friends so I didn't think it was serious."
When they weren't together, the girl testified that she and Scaringe communicated "pretty much daily," most often via text message. At first the girl used her mother's cell phone, unbeknownst to her mother.
Asked why she didn't want her mom to know, she said, "I was only 13, and I didn't know anything about love. I felt like I loved him and we were friends."
Later, the two texted back and forth with a cell phone Scaringe bought her as a Christmas gift, the girl said. She said Scaringe also bought her other Christmas gifts during a Dec. 20 shopping trip to Lake Placid, including a zip-up fleece hoodie, a tie-die T-shirt and a Webkinz stuffed animal.
"He would always buy me gifts and make me feel very close," the girl said. "He just took care of me as if I were his own daughter, but like in a friend way."
Delehanty also asked the girl about a text message, allegedly sent by Scaringe, that her family intercepted on Dec. 27. The girl's mother testified Wednesday that it said, "'Sunday was great; Wednesday was a dream come true.'" The girl said her mother, after reporting the text to police, confronted her later that night.
"She asked if he raped me," the girl said.
"What did you say?" Delehanty asked.
"Yes," the girl responded.
"Was that the truth?" Delehanty asked.
"No, not all of it, like the whole truth," the girl said. "I was only 13. I was scared to tell my mother and I didn't want to get in trouble."
Before Delehanty finished his questions, he showed the jury several pictures the girl had taken using Scaringe's cell-phone camera: one of herself in Scaringe's car, two of his dogs and one of herself and Scaringe alone in the office of the youth center.
During cross examination, Mary Rain, Scaringe's attorney, wasted no time in attacking the girl's credibility, drawing the jury's attention to conflicting information in her multiple statements to police, her testimony at the January 2010 preliminary hearing and her trial testimony Thursday.
In her earlier statements, the girl claimed Scaringe had forcibly raped her, which is why he was initially charged with first-degree rape. She later told police the sex was consensual, which is why Scaringe was indicted on a lesser charge of second-degree rape.
"Isn't it true that you indicated to the police in your statement that Michael had forcibly had sex with you?" Rain asked the girl.
"Yes," she responded.
"That wasn't true, was it?" Rain asked.
"No, not all the way the truth," the girl said.
Rain also got the girl to admit that she wasn't alone with Scaringe during the shopping trip to Lake Placid, and during a previous visit to Scaringe's home in October. Other kids from the youth center were present both times, she said, contradicting earlier statements she had made.
Rain also noted that at the January 2010 preliminary hearing the girl was asked specifically by Scaringe's then-attorney Brian Barrett whether she saw any marks on Scaringe's body after he took his clothes off. At that time she said no.
"I didn't understand fully what he meant by marks," the girl said Thursday.
Rain was roughly an hour into her cross examination before court was adjourned for the day. The girl will be on the stand when the trial resumes this morning.