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Scaringe rape trial: Girl’s conflicting statements at issue

First of several old sex abuse allegations raised

June 15, 2012
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer (cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

MALONE - The alleged victim in the Michael Scaringe rape trial faced another round of questions about her conflicting statements and testimony during cross-examination Friday by defense attorney Mary Rain.

Meanwhile, the first of at least four women who claim they were molested or sexually abused by Scaringe when he was a music teacher in the Tupper Lake Central School District in the 1970s took the stand.

St. Lawrence County Acting Supreme Court Judge Kathleen Rogers had hoped to wrap up the trial, which started on Monday, by the end of the week, but the prosecution still hadn't rested its case before the jury was sent home for the weekend. The trial is scheduled to resume Monday morning at the Franklin County Courthouse in Malone.

Article Photos

Scaringe

Scaringe is accused of having sexual intercourse with a then-13-year-old girl on Dec. 23, 2009, at his home on Old Lake Colby Road in Saranac Lake. At the time, Scaringe was 61-years-old and was director of the Saranac Lake Youth Center, where the two met. He's since been indicted on charges of second-degree rape, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

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Forcible rape?

As she did Thursday afternoon, Rain got the girl to admit that she lied when she told police in multiple sworn, written statements, and during a Jan. 4, 2010, preliminary hearing in Saranac Lake, that she was forcibly raped by Scaringe.

"Was Michael physically holding you down?" Rain asked the girl.

"Not forcibly holding me down," she said.

The girl had also said at the January 2010 hearing that she had slapped Scaringe to try and get him off of her, but she admitted Friday that she didn't slap him.

Asked by Chief Assistant Franklin County District Attorney Jack Delehanty why she didn't tell the truth about being forcibly raped, the girl said, "because I was scared I'd get in trouble, or he would, because I thought we were still friends."

"Did you think you had done anything wrong by being with Mr. Scaringe? " Delehanty asked.

"I did at some point think it was my fault," the girl said.

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Other statements

Rain said the girl testified during the preliminary hearing that Scaringe took her directly home after they left his house on Dec. 23. But the girl admitted Friday that that wasn't true and said she did go with him to the Wilson Farms convenience store across from the Harrietstown Town Hall before he drove her home.

"I hadn't remembered it at the time and I didn't think it was important," she said, adding later, "As I got older, it started to get easy to remember things."

Rain also asked if the girl told her boyfriend in the summer of 2010 that she didn't have sex with Scaringe.

"I may have, yes, because I didn't want him to think any worse of me," the girl said.

The girl also admitted that she posted statements on her Facebook page on the one-year and two-year anniversaries of the alleged events of Dec. 23, 2009, although she didn't post any specifics about what happened that day.

While there's been plenty of testimony, from the girl and others, about gifts Scaringe bought for her, Rain asked the girl if the county district attorney's office ever bought her anything. The girl said prosecutors bought her lunch once or twice, and it was later established that the DA's office gave $89 to Citizen Advocates to purchase an outfit for the girl for Scaringe's first trial in January, which ended in a mistrial.

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Other witnesses

Corrine Kerley, a sexual assault nurse examiner at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, testified that she performed an exam on the girl on Dec. 31, more than eight days after she allegedly had sex with Scaringe. Kerley said she couldn't perform a "rape kit" or a sexual assault evidence kit on the girl because, "after 96 hours, there isn't any DNA you'll find."

Kerley's exam found the girl had contusions on her vaginal opening and her cervix, as well as a urinary tract infection. She said the findings were consistent with "a forced sexual encounter."

Under cross examination, Rain asked if the contusions could have been caused by improper wiping or improper insertion of a tampon, which the nurse said is possible, but highly unlikely.

Later, the prosecution called an expert in the field of child and adolescent sexual abuse, Dr. Don Lewittes, to the stand. Lewittes testified, in general and without any reference to the Scaringe case, about the psychological impacts of sexual abuse on children. He was paid by the DA's office to appear.

Another young girl who frequented the youth center at the same time as the alleged victim testified Friday. The girl, now 17, recalled meeting Scaringe after he was hired. She said he would frequently hug the girls who came to the youth center and tell them how pretty they were. The girl stopped going to the center, she said, because "(Scaringe) started to make me feel awkward."

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Old allegations

During a pre-trial conference in January, Franklin County Court Judge Robert Main Jr., who had been handling the case before Rogers took it over, granted a request from the prosecution to bring testimony from several Tupper Lake women who recalled being molested, sexually abused by, or having sex with, Scaringe when he was a music teacher in the Tupper Lake Central School District in the 1970s and took his stepfather's last name, Josephson.

Rain pressed Judge Rogers not to allow the testimony on Friday, saying there's no connection between those allegations and the current charges against Scaringe.

"It's 100 percent prejudice," Rain said.

But Rogers allowed the testimony to move forward, but only for the purposes of determining what Scaringe's intentions were in dealing with children, and only related to the charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

One of those witnesses testified Friday. The now 52-year-old woman said she was a student in Scaringe's class in seventh and eighth grade when she was 14 and 15 years old. She said he would often kiss her, tell her she was pretty and caress her legs and her breasts in the classroom, when no one else was around. The woman said she never told anyone about what happened and admitted she liked the attention at the time.

"It made me feel good because nobody had ever showed me any affection," she said.

 
 

 

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