December 6, 2021

Virus concerns delay rape case

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

Luke Fenchel, second from left, the attorney for Raymond C. Cole Jr., shown at left, are shown here in Court March 17

The trial of a man accused of drugging, raping and holding a woman captive last year has been adjourned until mid-June because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cortland County District Attorney Patrick Perfetti said one of the jurors in the trial of Raymond Cole Jr. was a medical professional who was exposed to a case of the coronavirus over the weekend. Perfetti said there was little threat of the juror’s exposure of the virus as the juror was wearing proper protection equipment.

The court, though, can’t force other members of the jury to be near that juror who was exposed, leading to the postponement, Perfetti said.

The trial had lost its two alternate jurors on March 16 as one alternate juror replaced a male juror who had shingles and the other alternate juror was sick and could not continue with the trial.

The trial has been postponed to June 15.

Cole, 59, was indicted July 19, accused of drugging, raping and holding a 34-year-old woman captive in his 13 Brown Ave., Cortland, residence from May 30 to June 3.
Police reports said the woman reported being locked in a basement closet, injected about 30 times with a “bath salt” type drug called Molly and being raped daily.

Cole denied the allegations, telling police the woman “does whatever she wants to,” court records show.

He was accused of 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.

Cole is also charged with five counts of second-degree unlawful imprisonment, a misdemeanor.

The harshest of the charges carries a maximum 25-year sentence.

The defense was beginning its case with witness questioning when the trial was postponed, said Luke Fenchel, Cole’s attorney.

Furthermore, with the threat of the coronavirus potentially spreading, Fenchel was concerned about the jury’s ability to deliberate the case in a close physical setting and not be able to practice social distancing.

He said the case was one of the few still happening in the state.

“Our trial only continued to go because we had a jury sworn,” he said.

Fenchel agreed with the decision to postpone the trial until June as there “would be a real risk of mistrial” without the postponement, he said.

Perfetti agreed.

“Neither situation is ideal, but I’d rather have an adjournment than a mistrial,” he said.
The defense will call for witnesses to testify when the trial resumes, the clerk’s office said.