SARANAC LAKE - A juror in the Michael Scaringe rape case said Thursday that he felt the former Saranac Lake Youth Center director lied and was evasive in his more-than-two-hour interview with state police investigators, describing that as one of several factors that led to the jury's decision to convict him.
The juror was one of the six men on the 12 member panel that returned guilty verdicts against Scaringe Wednesday afternoon. He agreed to speak to the Enterprise on condition of anonymity.
The first thing the jury did after beginning deliberations, he said, was listen to a recording of the interview state police Investigators Dan Howard and Joel Revette conducted with Scaringe on Jan. 1, 2010 at Troop B headquarters in Ray Brook. The interview took place nine days after Scaringe, 61 at the time, had sexual intercourse with a then-13-year-old girl at his home on Old Lake Colby Road in Saranac Lake.
"He didn't testify, which we didn't hold against him, but this was our only chance to hear him talk and hear how he answered questions," the juror said. "We had the benefit of knowing the communication he'd had with the victim in the days before that. We knew about the text messages, the search warrant and had all the evidence in front of us - things even the investigators didn't know at that point. And you could just hear him lie or be evasive."
Franklin County Chief Assistant District Attorney Jack Delehanty had repeatedly urged the jury to listen to the recorded interview during his closing statements.
The biggest issue the panel faced, the juror said, was the girl's credibility, namely the inconsistencies in her statements and testimony. He said some of those inconsistencies were significant, like the girl's admission that she wasn't forcibly raped and that the sex was consensual - even though she was too young to consent to sex. Others weren't as significant, he said, like whether or not she recalled visiting a convenience store with Scaringe after the rape.
"Even with those consistencies, they all fit the pattern that the (prosecution's child sexual abuse) expert witness talked about, as well as our own common sense of how we'd expect a child to deal with that situation, especially one who's already a troubled child and an immature child," the juror said. "She's naturally going to have inconsistencies. If she didn't, that would be almost more suspicious.
"What also helped is the fact that she didn't volunteer that information. She was caught. It wasn't like she had a falling out with him and was out to get him. It took a while to get the information out of her, and she wanted to protect that relationship."
Asked about the witnesses called by the defense, the juror said even the things they described were consistent with how the girl would behave. He referred to the testimony of Timothy Lacey, who said the girl told him in a Facebook conversation that she didn't have sex with Scaringe.
"She was probably embarrassed," the juror said. "She didn't know how he'd react or think about her, so she denied it."
The lack of physical evidence in the case was problematic, the juror said, but the results of a physical exam of the girl by a sexual assault nurse examiner, the text messages the two exchanged and the evasive responses Scaringe gave police during the interview all supported the decision to convict.
Mary Rain, Scaringe's defense attorney, said after the guilty verdicts were returned that she felt the testimony of four women who said they engaged in sex acts with Scaringe when they were underage and he was a teacher in Tupper Lake in the 1970s had an undue influence on the jury.
But the juror who spoke with the Enterprise said that testimony was only considered in a limited way, as the judge had instructed.
"I can only speak for myself, but what it helped me understand was the child endangerment part of it. There were similarities in the interactions he had with those people: taking them for rides, saying they're special, saying they're pretty. It seemed like, 'Yeah, this is grooming behavior.'"
The juror described the panel as a good group of people who did the right thing.
"I feel like (Scaringe) did it," he said. "Even though (the girl) is not a completely credible person, I think we made the right decision."