MALONE — Michael Scaringe was found guilty Wednesday of raping a 13-year-old girl in 2009, while he was director of the Saranac Lake Youth Center.
The 61-year-old Saranac Lake man showed no reaction when the verdict was read by the jury foreperson at about 1:55 p.m. in Franklin County Court.
He was sent to County Jail without bail to await sentencing, set for 9 a.m. Aug. 1 by St. Lawrence County Supreme Court and Acting Franklin County Court Judge Kathleen Rogers.
It took the six-man, six-woman panel about six and a half hours over two days to reach the unanimous decision.
Scaringe was convicted of second-degree rape for having sex with a child under age 15, second-degree sexual abuse for forcing the girl to touch his penis for his sexual gratification, and for endangering the welfare of a child for grooming the girl to induce her into having sexual intercourse.
Scaringe took the teen to his home on Old Lake Colby Road on Dec. 23, 2009, and had sex with her. Her mother learned what happened when she intercepted a text message he sent the girl.
Wednesday, dressed in a pale-blue dress shirt, dark slacks and a light-grey sport coat, Scaringe was handcuffed behind the back and escorted out of the court as his relatives cried.
When asked if she would file a notice of appeal, defense attorney Mary Rain said, “I’m not sure how things will be handled at this point.”
During deliberations, notes came from the jury room a few times, the last at about 11:30 a.m., when jurors asked for clarification of the definition of sexual abuse.
An earlier note at 8:36 a.m. requested name tags, a dry-erase board, erasable markers and paper clips, and court officials, anxiously awaiting a verdict, chuckled when a note at 10:15 a.m. turned out to be a request for tea bags.
This is the last case Chief Assistant District Attorney Jack Delehanty will be involved in as a prosecutor because he is retiring.
He was expected to be gone in May, but a mistrial for Scaringe declared in January after a jury had been seated pushed his retirement timeline back.
Delehanty said he sent the teen a text message immediately after the verdict was read, saying, “We won!” to which she responded, “Woo hoo! Thank you!”
“She was very, very happy,” he said, adding that he also talked with the girl’s mother.
“I’m totally thankful to the jury,” the chief ADA said, adding that they weighed the girl’s testimony and understood her actions in relation to what was happening to her.
“With this verdict, they recognized they had to listen with their minds, their hearts and their psyche to understand her testimony,” he said.
“Ms. Rain call her a sociopath. The jury didn’t think that little girl was a sociopath.
“I didn’t speak to the jury, but I’d make an educated guess and say they wanted to believe a child and did,” Delehanty said. “I asked them to listen to the tape, and they did.”
The jury used a laptop computer to play a 2-1/2 hour interview State Police investigators had with Scaringe, during which his statements concerning his involvement with the girl changed at different points.
Delehanty said he has been named a special prosecutor and will be in court on Aug. 1 to speak on behalf of the victim.
The nine-day trial included testimony from the girl, who turns 16 next month, as well as four other women who said Scaringe victimized them while he was a substitute teacher in the Tupper Lake Central School District in the 1970s under the name Michael Josephson.
The women said the incidents started when he hugged and kissed them — they were 12 and 13 at the time — and that the touching escalated to more intimate behaviors, including fondling their breasts, reaching inside their pants, and, in some cases, sexual intercourse.
Witnesses testified that he had sex with them — one said he took her to a Saranac Lake motel room to perform the act, and another said he had sex with her in the school’s music room after lifting her onto the piano.
Some of the women said they told Tupper Lake school authorities what Scaringe was doing to them, but no one did anything about it.
“My frustration with this case and with the investigators on this case is that we had other evidence in addition to the witnesses who testified — and school officials from 30 years ago confirmed — he was not kept on because of this type of conduct,” said District Attorney Derek Champagne.
“It’s very frustrating and leaves me speechless how that conduct was ignored by everyone,” he said. “We may never know how many other children were systematically abused by this defendant.”
Email Denise A. Raymo: firstname.lastname@example.org