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Jury returns guilty verdict for former youth center director

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MALONE - Although Michael Scaringe ate his breakfast on Wednesday as a free man, a jury decided that he would eat his the rest of his meals for up to the next seven years in a correctional facility.

Scaringe was found guilty by a six-man, six-woman jury on felony counts of second-degree rape and second-degree sexual abuse, as well as a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child.

Acting Franklin County Court Judge Kathleen Rogers sent him to the Franklin County Jail without bail pending sentencing. He had previously been free on $150,000 bail.

The jury began deliberations around 2 p.m. Tuesday and concluded Wednesday around the same time of day.

As the verdicts were read, Scaringe grimaced and his skin went from a slightly flushed shade to completely pale. His sister, who had been in the gallery observing the entire trial, began sobbing and jaggedly rubbing her temples. As Scaringe was escorted from the courtroom, handcuffed by Franklin County sheriff’s deputies, he looked at her and said, “It’s okay.”

Defense reacts, cites potential appellate issues

Scaringe’s defense counsel, Mary Rain of Ogdensburg, said he plans to appeal the case.

“The defense and Mr. Scaringe are extremely disappointed with the verdicts, as is his family,” Ms. Rain said.

She said appeal issues may include the decision to allow Scaringe’s four alleged victims from the 1970s to give testimony. Although Judge Rogers instructed the jury that their testimony could only be used to prove the endangering the welfare of a child charge, Ms. Rain felt the jury was unable to put the testimony out of their minds when considering the other charges.

“We still feel the jurors could never get past that, never put it out of their mind. They’re only human,” Ms. Rain said, adding if she had been a juror on the case she would not have been able to limit their testimony to just the one misdemeanor charge.

“They [prosecution] knew, like everyone else, the jurors were not going to put aside their [alleged victims from the 1970s] testimony,” Ms. Rain said.

She addeds he felt even the allowed use of the testimony was not within the limits set forth by People v. Molineaux, which deals with entering prior alleged crimes for which a defendant was never charged as evidence.

Ms. Rain said an appellate case could also raise speedy trial issues.

The law gives the prosecution six months to announce readiness for trial in county court, starting at the date police file certain paperwork, Ms. Rain said. In this case, the papers were filed Jan. 1, 2010 when Scaringe was arrested, and prosecutors announced readiness for trial six months later, according to Rain.

She said Scaringe had originally been charged with a second count of second-degree sexual abuse, but it was dropped due to lack of evidence.

Ms. Rain said at some point prosecutors filed motions to re-charge Scaringe with the additional sexual abuse count. They were unsuccessful. But, she said the motion re-started the six month clock that began on Jan. 1, therefore they went over the six month limit.

Ms. Rain was assisted throughout the trial by Bradon Toomey, a law student who interned with her when she was with the St. Lawrence County Public Defender’s Office.

“He was a tremendous help,” Ms. Rain said.

Prosecution is satisfied

“I’m gratified that the jury took the time, energy, and insight... and followed the law that was given to them by Judge Rogers and rendered an awful lot of justice today,” Chief Assistant District Attorney Jack Delehanty, lead prosecutor for the case, said. The trial was his last, and he will be retiring from the district attorney’s office after 30 years of service.

Mr. Delehanty said he constantly worried about not getting a conviction throughout the proceeding. It was the last thing on his mind before going to bed and the first thing on his mind when he woke in the morning, he said.

“Anything can happen at a jury trial. I worried,” Mr. Delehanty said.

Mr. Delehanty credited his co-counsel, Assistant District Attorney Glenn MacNeill, with helping him prosecute the case.

Mr. MacNeill said he was glad he was able to work as co-counsel on Delehanty’s final case.

“I wanted to end it with he and I prosecuting the case,” Mr. MacNeill said. “The way we started out 25 years ago.”

“I couldn’t have done it without him,” Mr. Delehanty added.

Jurors remain mum, mostly

“We feel justice was served,” said one juror, who would not give his name.

“We’re happy,” said another juror who would not identify herself.

During deliberations, the jury listened to a recorded interview with Scaringe conducted by Inv. Daniel Howard of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Mr. Howard testified at the trial as to the content of the recording; Mr. Delehanty said Wednesday that there is nothing on the recording that did not come out in court. He said the recording was not played in open trial proceedings because it goes for about two-and-a-half hours.

“I suggested in my summation that they listen to it, merely because I didn’t want them to be trusting what I had to say, I wanted them to hear it for themselves,” Mr. Delehanty said. “There’s some that need to hear it for themselves.”

A third juror who would not identify himself echoed Mr. Delehanty’s thought that he needed to hear the recording for himself in order to render a verdict and would not comment further.

Mr. Delehanty said the recording had Scaringe claiming he had only seen the victim a week before Christmas. But as the interview went on, he changed his story to having seen her on Dec. 23, 2009, Mr. Delehanty said. The victim testified that she had sex with Scaringe on that day.

“He said... that he received permission from the victim’s mother to buy her all the gifts that he purchased for her, including the cell phone that he used to maintain his secrecy, when he never asked permission to buy her anything,” Mr. Delehanty said.

He added that in the interview Scaringe said he had permission to give the victim rides to school functions when he didn’t. The fourth count of the indictment, which was dismissed, alleged instances of sexual touching when Scaringe gave the victim a ride home from a cheerleading practice.

Original incident

Scaringe was arrested on Jan. 1, 2010 and charged with having sex with a 13-year-old girl on Dec. 23, 2009 at his Saranac Lake home. He met her at the Getaway youth center in Saranac Lake during his brief time as its executive director.

It was revealed at trial that he lavished the girl with affection, including telling her he loved her and buying her gifts that included clothes, a stuffed animal, and a pre-paid cell phone with minutes to groom her to consent to a course of sexual conduct.

Scaringe is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 1 at 9:30 a.m. in Franklin County Court.

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