November 30, 2021

Accuser in Cortland rape testifies at hearing

Shenandoah Briere/contributing photographer

Raymond Cole, Jr., left, leaves Cortland City Court following his arraignment on charges that he held a woman in a closet and raped her repeatedly over four days. File photo from June 2019.

A woman police said was held and raped over four days testified Tuesday in Cortland City Court that she was able to leave the residence, but never consented to sex.

However, Cortland City Court Judge Elizabeth Burns found the county District Attorney’s Office provided enough evidence to give her reasonable cause to believe Raymond C. Cole Jr. committed a felony — all that is needed for Burns to send the case to Cortland County Court and a grand jury.

“I think the evidence is clear here,” Burns said.

Cole, 58, of Cortland, is charged with first-degree rape, first-degree unlawful imprisonment, second-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, felonies, stemming from a June 3 arrest. He is also charged with three counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor.

Cortland Police Officer Trevor Wenz testified he was one of the officers dispatched to check on the well-being of a woman at Cole’s residence at 13 Brown Ave. It’s not the first time the victim had to be checked on by police.

She testified that in September while Cole was living on Winter Street, Cortland, he left and locked her in a room while she was sleeping. Police ended up opening the door using bolt cutters. She said she decided then not to press charges.

While at the Brown Avenue residence, Wenz said he was stationed at the back of the home.

“The back door swung open and a girl I knew as (the victim) stumbled out,” he said. “I could tell something wasn’t right.”

The woman appeared dehydrated, was sweating profusely and was not in control of her body movements, he said; her arms waved around. He said she appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

“She stated that she had been locked up down there (in the basement) and didn’t want to be there anymore,” Wenz testified.

The woman testified she had known Cole for about two years and had believed them to be friends after having had a sexual relationship that ended — in April, she told police earlier. She said she went to Cole’s residence May 30 to grab personal items Cole had been watching for her while she was in jail. While she was getting the items out of the basement, she talked to Cole, who showed her gifts for her.

She said she came to sit on the floor while conversing with Cole, who turned to talking about getting high on drugs.

“He crouched down and started showing me jewelry and he started talking to me about drugs,” she testified. “I told him I didn’t want to do drugs. she testified. “I told him I didn’t want to do drugs. He pushed me over onto the floor and straddled me and told me ‘We can do this the hard way or the easy way.’”

During the victim’s testimony Burns warned Cole to not speak to anyone other than his attorney and to not make any gestures to anyone in court.

“You learn to control yourself or we’ll make other arrangements,” Burns said.

The accuser said Cole reached to a nearby counter, grabbed a syringe with Molly — a form of the synthetic stimulant bath salts — and injected the drugs into her thigh, then raped her.

“When he had sex with you, did you consent?” Assistant District Attorney Jessica Weyant asked.

“No,” the woman replied.

“Did you consent to him shooting you up?” Weyant asked.

“No,” the woman replied.

The woman said after he had sex with her, she was told to get into a closet in the basement.

But she also testified that she did not stay in the closet for the entire four days — May 30 to June 3. She also testified that she did leave the residence to get a bike and to get shoes with her grandmother, although she said she wasn’t sure of the days that occured.

She said she was told to get in the closet six or seven times for anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.

“You weren’t physically put in the cabinet, you were told to get into the cabinet right?” asked Luke Fenchel, Cole’s attorney.

“Yes,” the woman replied. “I was threatened.”