October 23, 2021

Girlfriend: Boyfriend pushed her to abuse child

A woman accused of sexually abusing a girl that was less than 11 for up to two years said she was manipulated into it by her boyfriend, who is also charged in the matter.

Sarah R. Gates, 38, of 3 Kingsley Ave., Cortland, and Christopher M. Perry, 35, of 89 Bartlett Ave., Cortland, were charged last week with sex crimes after city police worked with the state police Computer Crime Unit to look into the dissemination of child pornography, Lt. Michael Strangeway said.

Police said Perry and Gates repeatedly sexually abused a girl who is less than 11 years old for 1 1/2 to two years at a residence on Hyatt Street in Cortland.

In a statement to police, Gates said Perry manipulated her into performing sexual acts to and with the victim and taking photos of the acts on multiple occasions.

“I know it was wrong, but I was scared of him,” she said in the statement. “I was afraid Chris would leave me if I did not do these things.”

“He made me do all of this, I knew I should of left him,” she added in the statement. “He kept telling me that he would never talk to me again if I did not do this.”

Gates also said Perry performed sexual acts on the victim and that he took photos. Perry did not make a statement to police.

Police searched Perry’s residence and found photos on his cellphone, according to a news release.

Strangeway said Perry disseminated at least one image or video on the internet, which was then sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The center sent it to the police. Perry also possessed other child pornographic images and videos not related to the other sexual abuse allegations, Strangeway said.

Perry is charged with 10 felonies: predatory sexual assault against a child, first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse, use of a child in a sexual performance, possessing a sexual performance by a child, promoting a sexual performance by a child, possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child and another first-degree sex felony. He is also charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation.

Gates is charged with six felonies: predatory sexual assault against a child, first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree sexual abuse, use of a child in a sexual performance, promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child and a third-degree sex felony. She is also charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

A stay away order of protection was order by Cortland City Court Judge Elizabeth Burns regarding both Perry and Gates.

They remain in Cortland County Jail without bail.

They are scheduled to appear Friday in Cortland City Court for a preliminary hearing.