Update: Closing statements will take place Monday morning, not Friday.
ITHACA, N.Y. — Throughout this week in the trial of Tompkins County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Walters, a jury has heard testimony from all witnesses in the case, including the defendant and the woman he is charged with raping. On the stand this week, they gave very different accounts of the night.
Walters, 34, has been indicted on three charges including two counts of first-degree rape and one count of first-degree sexual abuse. He was originally charged in 2017 and is accused of raping a woman who was physically helpless at his Lansing residence in 2013.
Schuyler Country District Attorney Joseph Fazzary, who is special prosecutor, rested his case Thursday morning. Since Monday, he has called several witnesses to testify including Matthew Pinney, who was originally charged with rape along with Walters, as well as the victim, her ex-husband, a nurse that specializes in sexual assault, an expert in psychological trauma and others.
Fazzary and defense attorney Veronica Gorman, who is representing Walters, gave overviews of their cases during opening statements Monday. Fazzary told jurors the evidence will show that the victim was physically helpless and “couldn’t say yes or no to the sex that occurred.”
Gorman, however, said, “the three of them had a consensual threesome.” The jury will have to weigh the credibility of evidence and decide if the woman did, or could, consent to sex that night.
Read more coverage from the first part of the trial here.
The woman who has accused Tompkins County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Walters of sexually assaulting her took the stand Tuesday to testify to what she remembers from the night. While the beginning was clear, she said that later in the night, after being served drinks by Walters at his house, she only has “snapshot memories.”
She testified that on Feb. 1, 2013, she went to the Crossroads Bar in Lansing to meet a friend, sometime around 9 or 10 p.m., and got a beer. At some point, she said Pinney approached her and asked her for a ride home later since they were neighbors. She said she also saw Walters at the bar. The three of them were neighbors and acquaintances, but not good friends, she said. While at the bar, she said in total she had one-and-a-half Michelob Ultras.
Schuyler Country District Attorney Joseph Fazzary, who is prosecuting the case, asked the woman if she had flirted with Walters or Pinney or told them she wanted to have sex. She responded a flat, “no,” to both.
She testified that she did not want to give Pinney a ride home because of a previous incident when he touched her inappropriately while getting a ride with her and her husband about a month prior. She said she asked Walters, who was also a neighbor, to give him a ride home but he declined and said he had to give another person a ride home.
Her friend left before her, she said, and when she went to leave, Pinney was by the door with his coat, so she gave him a ride. First, she said, he asked her to take him to a family member’s business which was about a quarter-mile away. She said he started touching her leg and touching her. Then, she left and headed toward Pinney’s house and hers.
When she got there, she said, he asked her if she wanted to see puppies.
“Why’d you go in?” Fazzary asked. She replied that she did not want to hurt his feelings, and also thought his family was home. So, she went in. She said she took some pictures of the puppies but Pinney told her she couldn’t post them online anywhere.
While they were there, she said, Walters called and invited them over to see his house next door. She said, “He wasn’t going to take no for an answer.” Pinney and the woman did go over to Walters house, where she said he showed them around and then they stood around his kitchen island talking.
She said Walters made her a “creamsicle drink.” She said she then went to the bathroom and when she came out said it was time for her to go home, but she didn’t go yet because they got to talking more. She said Walters asked her if she had ever cheated on her husband. She claimed he also had an invitation for a policeman’s ball and asked if she would go with him.
Walters made her a second drink, she said, and could tell after a few sips that it was stronger.
“I took a few sips and started feeling like something was going wrong and I understood what he had done,” she said. She was talking when it hit her she said and she felt her body get weak.
“Did you know what was happening to you?” Fazzary asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“What did you think?”
“I was in trouble,” she said.
Next, she said, she remembers Walters putting her over his shoulder and carrying her to his bedroom. After that, she said she can recall “snapshot memories.”
She said there would be nothing, then she would wake up. She said she remembers being on the bed and Pinney was having sex with her. She said she also remembers Walters holding her hand over his penis while he had his pants on and touching her. In another snapshot memory, she said she remembered being on Walters’ bathroom floor fully naked and wet with a bad taste in her mouth. Last, she remembered being in Pinney’s driveway facedown in the gravel.
The next day, she said, was the sickest she has ever felt. She said her whole body hurt.
“Were you capable of telling the defendant or Matt Pinney that you didn’t want to have sex with them?” Fazzary asked. She replied, “No.”
He also asked her why she waited so long to report the incident to police. She said because Walters was a deputy, she was afraid. She also said she would make appointments to meet with police but would always cancel. She said she was afraid and embarrassed.
But then, more than four years later, she said she heard from a friend who is the wife of a police officer that Walters had a video of the incident. “I thought, here’s my proof,” she said.
According to New York State Police Investigator Jennifer Hahl, who interviewed Walters after the woman went to police, Walters did not have video. He allegedly said he had interior surveillance of the main room which captures the entrance, living room and kitchen. However, Hahl said, he got “visibly nervous” when asked if surveillance from the evening would still be on his DVR system. Walters allegedly told her that he got rid of the DVR system and did not recall what he did with it.
Another point in the interview that Hahl noted Walters get nervous was when she mentioned that the woman had done a sexual assault evidence collection kit after the incident and felt she had been drugged. Allegedly he said, “Well, that’s good. I didn’t have sex with her, but my DNA may be there. I fingered her.”
The woman did not actually get a rape kit done. An avid fan of CSI, she said, she did a swab of her vagina with a Q-tip at home and saved it. However, it was lost over the years. She also did go see a nurse at Cayuga Medical Center who specializes in sexual assault. Hahl said she did not deliberately intend to mislead Walters that a sexual assault kit was done, but had read the woman had visited a sexual assault nurse and thought she had.
The nurse, Debra Dibartolo, testified that she did a sexual assault examination of the woman on Feb. 3, 2013. During the examination she said the woman told her she did not want to have a rape kit done because she was scared. Dibartolo also said the woman told her about the “cameo memories” and said she was afraid she had been drugged.
Fazzary ended his questions for the victim with, “Did you consent to the defendant touching you?” “Were you even capable of consent?” “Were you capable of telling them no?” She responded, “No.”
Scott Walters takes the stand
On Thursday afternoon, Walters took the stand and gave a different account of the night, saying everything was consensual.
He said on Feb. 1, 2013, he was working as a road patrol deputy in the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office. On that day he said he worked a 3 to 11 p.m. shift and went to the Crossroads Bar after work. He said he saw Pinney and the woman there and talked to them throughout the night, including offering to have them both over his house.
Gorman asked Walters while he was at the bar if he made any observations about Pinney and the woman’s behavior?
“Yeah, it was fairly obvious that they were close,” Walters said. “There was definitely flirtation between the two of them.”
She further asked if at any point the woman flirted with him, and he said she did not.
Walters said he was at Crossroads until the bar closed at about 1:30 a.m. and then he went directly home. He said he thought Pinney and the woman were right behind him and going to come over. After some time passed, he contacted them to ask them to come over.
When Pinney and the woman got to his house, he said they hung out and talked around the kitchen island having drinks for several hours. Asked if he mixed any drinks for the woman, he said he didn’t know. Gorman also asked him about a special drink that he pulled out of the refrigerator for the woman, which he denied. She further asked if he had anything in his refrigerator at that time that would “incapacitate someone.”
“No,” he said.
Walters was also asked if he had a prescription for Ambien, a sedative, which he said he did not.
Gorman asked if he felt intoxicated while they were at his kitchen island that night, and he said he did not. Asked about Pinney and the woman, he said they were not falling down drunk or slurring their words. Gorman also asked Walters what he observed about the interactions between Pinney and the woman.
“They were very flirtatious, moreso than what was at the bar,” Walters said. He said he specifically recalled coming back from the bathroom at one point and “caught them making out.” He said the conversation eventually turned “sexual in nature.”
From there, he said in addition to making out, Walters claimed Pinney and the woman going off into another room. Describing the next events, he said again the conversation became sexual in nature and he said he picked up the woman and carried her down the hallway. “This was in a completely joking manner,” Walters said.
When they got to the bedroom, Walters said, he said he set the woman down and they began making out. He said Pinney came in after and began having sex with her. He said she was responsive when they were making out and he was fondling her chest. At some point, Walters said while they were making out, “She had said to me, ‘I’ve wanted this’ or ‘I wanted you for a long time.’”
Walters said the comment took him aback. He claims she said further that she was not together with her husband, but they were living together.
In the bedroom, Walters said, Pinney abruptly stopped having sex with her. He allegedly said that the phone is ringing, and Walters said the woman was “panicking” because it was her husband. He said Pinney left and the woman grabbed her clothes and went to the bathroom for five minutes. He said she left her house walking and he watched her walk across the lawn to Pinney’s house, where her car was parked.
Later in testimony, Walters addressed the claims that he had video of the night. He said he did have a surveillance system in his house because there had been burglaries in the neighborhood, but he said there were no cameras in the bedroom. However, because it was faulty he said he returned it later in the year.
The last witness Friday, Zachary Starner, who is a close friend of Walters. He said he observed the surveillance video of the night with Walters in June 2013. He said he saw Walters, Pinney and the woman around the kitchen island and said he saw one of the guys kiss the woman and said she seemed “very flirtatious.”
When questioned by Fazzary, Starner said though he had seen the video, he never told police about it. He further admitted that he never cooperated with New York State Police on the investigation.
Throughout everything, Walters claimed the woman was “absolutely responding.” He denied giving so much alcohol to the woman she was incapacitated, drugging her, and fingering her. Asked if he and Pinney had a secret plan to have sex with her, he responded, “No.”
Fazzary questioned Walters on Friday about how intoxicated the woman was when she left his house. He said she was “relatively sober” when she left. Earlier in the trial, the woman’s ex-husband testified that he found her passed out in her car in Pinney’s driveway. He said she was a “wreck.” Asked about how she got in the state between the time she left his house and got to the driveway, Walters said it was not his testimony she was a wreck and said he didn’t know how she would get in that state.
Since the charges, Walters has been on paid administrative leave from the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office.
Closing statements are now expected Monday morning.