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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, Harrisville, was offered a plea deal by St. Lawrence County Assistant 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 suppression hearing in the case started Monday in St. Lawrence County Court.

Clement is being charged with 31 counts of first-degree rape, a class B violent felony, accused of raping a 12-year-old Pitcairn girl on 31 separate days 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 pre-sentence 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 the hearing, in which he is trying to exclude from evidence the statements he made to state police on Dec. 19, 2012, which allegedly included admissions to twice having sex with the girl.

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

The purpose of the suppression hearing is 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, eventually admitting to having sexual contact with the girl.

“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 in more than one incident, he responded that “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.

The suppression hearing is scheduled to continue Monday. Clement’s release was continued on $3,000 bail.

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