SARANAC LAKE - The youth center director accused of raping a 13-year-old local girl was back in court earlier this week for a felony hearing that upheld the case against him thus far.
Michael Scaringe, 61, appeared before Harrietstown Justice Thomas Glover shortly before noon Jan. 4 wearing orange prison garb and a Carhart jacket.
He was escorted into the courtroom by two Franklin County Sheriff's deputies, where he took his seat beside defense attorney Brian Barrett of Lake Placid.
The purpose of the hearing was to establish if enough evidence existed to pursue the felony charges levied against Scaringe, who was taken into custody Jan. 1 after police learned he allegedly forcibly raped an adolescent girl.
Prosecutor Jack Delehanty is an assistant district attorney for Franklin County.
"Judge Glover just conducted a felony hearing; it's the right of all defendants who stand charged with a felony offense to have their case heard by the local magistrate," he said. "The purpose of today's hearing was to determine whether or not there's reasonable cause to believe that the elements of any felony offense could be demonstrated by credible evidence and that's what Judge Glover indicated existed today. The defendant will now be bound-over for the action of the Grand Jury."
Justice Glover moved to uphold the charges of first-degree rape, despite Barrett's contention that the prosecution did not present any physical evidence to support its case.
Glover also maintained bail at $100,000 cash and $150,000 bond. Delehanty noted that Scaringe has two Social Security numbers, and has changed his name in the past - making him a prime candidate for flight-risk.
But Barrett disagreed.
"I'm just asking that the defendant be released, because I don't believe that sufficient evidence was presented to find that there was even reasonable suspicion that my client had committed any felony," he said.
Throughout the proceedings, Delehanty stressed that the hearing was not a "fishing expedition." The purpose of the hearing, Delehanty said, was to establish grounds for charges of second-degree felony rape.
"That means we have an adult over the age of 21 and a minor under the age of 17 engaging in sexual intercourse," Delehanty said. "And that's illegal no matter where you are."
To support the charge, the complaining witness appeared before Justice Glover, as did Bureau of Criminal Investigation Investigator Daniel Howard. The 13-year-old witness testified that sexual intercourse did occur, and Howard testified to the age of Scaringe.
Barrett said the defense doesn't dispute the facts surrounding the individuals involved.
"We certainly don't dispute that the
See RAPE, page 9
From page 1
complainant is a juvenile, and we certainly don't dispute that my client is 61," he said. "But what we do dispute is every other element of that crime and the occurrences of the crime."
Details about the victim are kept confidential under federal "rape shield" laws, which bar the defendant's ability to cross-examine plaintiffs about past sexual behavior. The law also prohibits media from identifying the alleged victim.
During the complainant's testimony, she testified that on the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 23 she was at the Saranac Lake Youth Center, where Scaringe was employed as executive director.
Scaringe allegedly offered the girl a ride home, first stopping at his residence on Old Lake Colby Drive. The girl waited inside Scaringe's car while he went inside to retrieve his two dogs and some duffle bags.
She remained inside the vehicle until Scaringe asked her to help with some bags. She obliged, and entered the home.
Then, the defendant allegedly told the victim the bags were upstairs. She climbed the stairs and searched for the bags. He then forced her to enter his bedroom, at which point he closed the door and allegedly forced her onto the bed.
She testified that he held her on the bed while removing his clothes. He then removed her clothes and allegedly proceeded to have sexual intercourse with the girl for 10 to 15 minutes.
Following the alleged rape, the girl waited in Scaringe's vehicle and the defendant then drove her home.
During cross-examination, Barrett asked the plaintiff if she could recall any unique markings on Scaringe's body. She said she could not. Delehanty did object to a number of Barrett's inquiries, to which Barrett responded he was trying to show that the complainant's story had been "fabricated."
A Grand Jury hearing is slated for this Thursday; members of the press are not permitted to attend. In the meantime, Scaringe will be held in Franklin County Jail pending bail or bond.
Details regarding Scaringe's past are gradually becoming clear.
Scaringe did attend school in Saranac Lake, and was formerly known as Michael Josephson. Barrett explained that his client took his stepfather's last name after his mother remarried. He later opted to switch back to Scaringe.
Before being hired in September as director of the youth center, Scaringe was employed as a substitute teacher at St. Bernard's Catholic school. He tried to sub for the Saranac Lake Central School District, but was not hired.
An article that appeared in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times says Scaringe was acquitted of molesting a 14-year-old girl in 1995. At the time, he was a teacher at Bay Point Middle School. A jury ultimately decided the girl's story was made up and charges were dropped.