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Harrisville man rejects plea deal on rape charges; could face 115 to 775 sentence

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CANTON — A Lewis County man is facing 115 to 775 years in prison if a jury finds him guilty of forcibly raping a 12-year-old girl 31 times in 2012.

Joseph R. Clement II, 21, of 7854 Marshey Road, was offered a plea deal by Assistant St. Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua A. HaberkornHalm which would have required Clement to plead guilty to one count of first-degree rape. Clement declined the deal before a supression hearing in the case started in St. Lawrence County Court Monday.

Clement is being charged with 31 counts of first-degree rape, a class B violent felony, after allegedly raping a 12-year-old Pitcairn girl on 31 separate dates from March 5 to May 3, 2012.

County Judge Jerome J. Richards warned Clement he was facing a mandatory prison sentence if convicted by a jury.

A conviction on a single count of a class B violent felony carries a minimum five-year prison sentence and a maximum of 25 years.

“If we have a trial and you are found not guilty, you get to walk out of here, but if you are convicted, you go to jail immediately,” Judge Richards said. “We will send out for a presentence investigation and it will tell me all of the things that I need to know about what happened for sentencing.”

If he accepted the deal, Clement would have faced a prison sentence of 14 years, but he shook his head when the offer was extended.

He said he wanted to move forward with hearings that aimed to suppress statements he made to state police on Dec. 19, 2012, which included admissions to twice having sex with the child.

State Police Investigator Rachelle Foster, the lone witness called to the stand Monday, said after a Dec. 13, 2012, complaint was filed by the victim’s mother, the investigator called Clement and asked him to come to the state police barracks in Gouverneur for an interview.

The purpose of the suppression hearing was to argue that Clement’s statement that day was taken involuntarily and that he should have had an attorney present. But Ms. Foster said Clement was advised of his Miranda rights prior to making any statements and said he was willing to talk about the allegations against him, during which time he admitted to having sexual contact with the child.

“He did not initially admit to anything,” Ms. Foster said. “However, in a matter of minutes, he made admissions to the crime.”

Ms. Foster said when she told him that he is being accused of more times than that, he told her “a lot of that was made up.”

“He asked me how much time he would be facing,” Ms. Foster said. “I told him I could not get into that.”

Once he admitted “to having sex with her and I told him her age, I told him we had no choice but to arrest him,” she said.

Suppression hearings are scheduled to continue Monday at 3 p.m. Clement’s release was continued on $3,000 bail.

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