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Felony sex charges reduced to misdemeanors; alleged Massena victim reportedly does not want to testify

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MASSENA - A 57-year-old Massena man charged with sexually abusing a woman in a bedroom where her children were sleeping has had his felony charges reduced to misdemeanors and returned to local court.

Village police had charged Thomas J. Chapman of 102 Water St., Massena, with first-degree aggravated sexual abuse by compulsion and committing a first-degree criminal sexual act following an investigation into an incident that reportedly took place at 3 a.m. April 14 and was reported after the alleged female victim was hospitalized for injuries she suffered in the attack. The allegations include a deviant sex act and the use of a foreign object.

He and his girlfriend reportedly spent the night at the victim’s residence, and Chapman assaulted the woman in her late 20s while his girlfriend was sleeping after taking medication. He reportedly entered the female’s bedroom three times during the course of the night and sexually assaulted her on each occasion. She said she didn’t yell out because her children were sleeping in the same room, and she didn’t want them to wake up and find her being assaulted.

Prosecutors had filed a motion seeking to have the felonies reduced to misdemeanors and returned to local court. The motion reduced the felony counts to misdemeanor charges of third-degree sexual abuse and sexual misconduct.

Defense attorney Edward F. Narrow, Syracuse, suggested prosecutors had little chance of gaining a conviction.

He said the alleged victim in the case has reportedly moved out of the area. “They don’t have a witness. They can’t put anybody on the stand. I know for a fact she didn’t want to testify at grand jury,” he told Acting Massena Village Justice James M. Crandall.

St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney Andrew T. Botts said he would attempt to contact the woman. “I will need to reach out to her and see her status. The unavailability of the complainant is news to me,” he noted.

During the early stages of the case, the court ordered Chapman to undergo a psychiatric examination to determine if he was fit for trial.

“I have spoken with family members and based on those conversations and my personal knowledge of Mr. Chapman it is my belief he is suffering from a mental defect that makes him an incapacitated person at this time and unable to assist in his own defense,” Mr. Narrow said during an earlier court appearance.

Mr. Narrow added at that time his request for psychiatric examination was based on a conversation he had with his client at the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility, a review of his client’s medical records and the conversations with his client’s family members. Mr. Chapman has previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is not currently on any medication, he pointed out at that time.

The review conducted by experts determined Chapman was not suffering from any mental defects that prohibited him from understanding the court proceedings and assisting in his own defense.

Mr. Crandall, at Chapman’s latest court appearance, continued the Massena man’s release under the supervision of the probation department with a stipulation he continue with any recommended mental health treatment. Chapman told the court he currently meets with a counselor once a month.

The court also extended a temporary order of protection to Dec. 31 directing Chapman to have no contact with the alleged victim.

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