Note: This story describes details of a reported sexual crime. Some people might find the details upsetting. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual or domestic assault, contact the police or The Tompkins County Advocacy Center here.
Update: A Freeville man was found guilty Wednesday afternoon of trying to rape a young teenager in her bedroom in February.
Ray Dennis was convicted of endangering the welfare of a child and felony first-degree attempted rape. Judge Scott Miller, who oversaw a bench trial for nearly two days as evidence was presented, determined the verdict.
The teen, who testified during the trial, said Dennis physically attacked her and removed her clothing as she fought him off. Dennis didn’t deny her testimony, but said on the witness stand that his intent was voyeuristic.
Dennis is scheduled to be sentenced at 2 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Tompkins County Courthouse.
Previous coverage —
ITHACA, N.Y. — Freeville man Ray Dennis did not deny going into a young teenager’s room in February, asking her to take her clothes off and physically struggling with her while she cried out for help and he removed her clothes. His defense, however, was that he didn’t intend to rape the teen — he wanted to see her naked.
Dennis is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and felony first-degree attempted rape. He has been in jail since his arrest on Feb. 11. A jury trial was waived in the case and the outcome of the bench trial will be decided by Judge Scott Miller.
The young teen testified Monday and told the court, “I thought he was going to rape me.”
She described a graphic and violent struggle where Dennis went into her room, demanded that she expose herself to him, and then grabbed and pursued her when she attempted to call for help and get away from him. She said he became nude during the struggle and tried to rape her as she kicked her legs in defense.
When Dennis took the stand Tuesday morning, he did not dispute a majority of her claims, sometimes laughing as he described what happened in the teen’s room.
“I told her that I want to see her breasts,” Dennis said. “The way that she strutted around … and was flaunting her stuff, yeah, I was wanting to see more.”
Dennis said, however, that his intent was to see the teen naked and thought the teen would be willing to expose herself to him. But when she resisted from the start, he said he didn’t have a plan but was willing to “get physical” with her.
“Well, I did get physical with her,” he said. “There was a struggle.”
During the struggle, Dennis said his shorts accidentally were pulled down, but that he did not and could not have raped or tried to rape the teen because he was suffering from erectile dysfunction due to a medical condition.
His attorney, Thomas Kheel, asked Dennis that if nobody was around to stop him and if he’d overpowered the girl, why did he eventually decide to leave the girl alone.
“Because it…(went) farther than I thought it was going to go,” Dennis said, reiterating that he wanted solely to see the girl naked. “It was never my intent to rape her.”
Assistant District Attorney Kristen Grabowski said during summations, however, that Dennis’ actions do not reflect voyeurism and said the case should be viewed through the “lens of common sense.”
She reiterated to the court that Dennis saw the teen naked but kept pursuing her throughout the room while she screamed for help and physically tried to fight him off. She also said that the teen testified that Dennis’ penis was about a foot from her while she was on the ground kicking at him.
“He doesn’t stop. He keeps going because he intended to rape (redacted), he didn’t intend to just see her (naked),” Grabowski said.
She also said that other than the prosecution and defense disagreeing over intent — which is essentially the crux of the case — Dennis corroborates “pretty much everything else” the teen said when she testified.
She said Dennis’ defense is, “Believe absolutely everything she says except for the things that might make this attempted rape.”
Kheel said during his closing that while the case is one of the worst kinds of cases and his client may have committed lesser crimes not being considered by the court, the prosecution had not proved that Dennis attempted to rape the teen.
Miller said at the conclusion of the trial that he would go over the case and have a verdict at 3 p.m. Wednesday.