October 23, 2021

Jury selected in rape trial

Raymond Cole Jr. faces 18 felony counts in 2019 Cortland case

Kevin Conlon/city editor

Raymond Cole Jr., center sits Monday afternoon with his defense attorney, Luke Fenchel, left, in Cortland County Court during jury selection for Cole’s trial on rape and other charges.

Twelve jurors and an alternate were selected Monday in the trial of Raymond Cole Jr., 59, who is accused of locking a woman in his Cortland basement for four days last year and repeatedly drugging and raping her.

A grand jury indicted Cole on July 19 in connection with the events from May 30 to June 3. He faces 18 felony and four misdemeanor charges.

Cortland County Court Judge Julie Campbell questioned 18 potential jurors — seven men and 11 women — about knowing police, members of the defense or prosecution teams or witnesses that would be called. She also asked if any potential jurors had served on a jury before or followed the news media coverage of the case.

Selections resumed this morning to pick the final alternate.

Cortland County District Attorney Patrick Perfetti’s office and defense attorney Luke Fenchel then took turns closely questioning the potential jurors on a range of subjects.

Perfetti asked whether drug addiction or alcoholism should be considered diseases or moral failings, and if drug addicts or alcoholics could be trusted to provide honest testimony. He also asked whether potential jurors thought rape could occur if the two people had previously had consensual sex. Perfetti further asked about DNA and seminal fluid evidence in rape cases.

Fenchel told potential jurors he was “looking for a jury that comes to this case … with an open mind.” He asked about drug addicts and alcoholics and their ability to be truthful. He went beyond Perfetti’s questions in asking in what circumstances addicts and alcoholics might lie. He finally asked if rape allegations can be made falsely.

Cole is charged with these felonies:

  • Three counts of first-degree rape.
  • Six counts of second-degree assault.
  • Five counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
  • Four counts of first-degree unlawful imprisonment.

The harshest of the chargesagainst him carry a maximum 25-year sentence.

He is also charged with counts of second degree unlawful imprisonment, a misdemeanor.

A 34-year-old woman told police in June that Cole held her captive in his house at 13 Brown Ave. from May 30 to June 3, police reported. During that time, she reported being locked in a basement closet, injected about 30 times with a “bath salt” type drug called Molly and being raped daily.

Cole denies the allegations.

The woman testified at a hearing in June 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 2019, 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. 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.’”

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 occurred.

She said she was ordered into the closet six or seven times for anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.

Cole has been through the justice system more than 30 times since 1982. He has faced a total of 12 felony cases, two of which were violent, and 19 misdemeanors.

He was convicted four times, including a violent felony involving a weapon.

Cole has also had at least one parole and one probation revocation and previous adjudication as a youthful offender.