October 24, 2021

Jury begins deliberations in Cole rape case

Kevin L. Smith/staff reporter

Defense attorney Luke Fenchel, left, and Raymond Cole jr. — who has been charged with rape and kidnapping — listen to the first defense witness Monday in Cole’s trial, resuming after a coronavirus-inspired delay.

Jury deliberations were to begin this morning in the case of a Cortland man accused of holding a woman against her will for four days in 2019 as he drugged and repeatedly raped her.

Jurors in the case of Raymond Cole Jr. heard closing arguments from prosecutors and the defense Wednesday in Cortland County Court.

The defense attorney repeatedly questioned the credibility of the woman’s statements Wednesday in closing arguments before the nine-woman, three-man jury. The prosecution argued the woman who accused Cole had been consistent for all of the key points of her allegations.

Cole, 59, was indicted on July 19, 2019 on 18 felonies, 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” drug known as Molly and was raped daily.

Cole was charged with 18 felonies: three counts of first-degree rape; six counts of second-degree assault; five counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon; and four counts of first-degree unlawful imprisonment. He also faces five misdemeanor counts of second-degree unlawful imprisonment.

Throughout his closing statements, defense attorney Robert DeMarco brought up multiple examples of the victim and other witnesses giving answers in court that contradicted what she told police after her apparent escape.

One example he brought up was of the victim being locked in a closet for the five days where she was allegedly drugged and raped.

“As it progressed, the story continually changed,” DeMarco said. “But that is not what we heard.”

The victim, witnesses testified, was allowed to come and go from the house as she pleased. While out, she would get food and go shopping.

“That’s not mentioned in her statement,” DeMarco said. “It only comes up after this man (Cole) was arrested and we learned what truly happened.”

DeMarco also said the victim, who had a warrant for her arrest, did not seem to be looking out for her own safety by not trying to get the police’s attention when they arrived at the house on June 3 for a wellness check.

“The important parts of her story never changed,” Assistant District Attorney Jessica Weyant said in her closing arguments. ”If she was free to leave, she would have left. … I submit to you, she was brainwashed by the defendant.”

Cole made a threat before one of the alleged rapes, which the woman related to police and Weyant repeated near the end of her closing statement.

“We can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way,” she quoted Cole.

“This is what the easy way got her,” Weyant said, pointing to a screen showing a photo of the woman’s injuries.