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Man admits abusing girl on Schenectady street

Friday, May 10, 2013
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— A city man admitted in court Thursday to sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl in a random attack on the street as her family headed home from the Gazette Holiday Parade last November.

Prosecutors say the defendant — Victor Oginski, 61, of Madison Street — was caught after the girl was able to point the man out to her father, who then took off running after the man, leading police directly to him.

He pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, as well as endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. In exchange, he is to receive three years in state prison and must register as a sex offender.

Oginski has been accused of sex crimes in the past, and at one point was listed as a Level 3 sex offender in the state database based on his guilty plea to a Saratoga County sex offense, according to state court records.

However, he saw that conviction overturned on a technicality, and prosecutors could not retry him, as the victims indicated they wanted to continue moving on with their lives, a prosecutor said Thursday.

In the Schenectady case, Oginski was arrested Nov. 17, the night of the holiday parade, prosecutor Tracey Brunecz said.

The parade had concluded and the girl and her parents were on their way back home, walking on Nott Terrace around 8:30 p.m., near Stewarts.

The parents were walking ahead and the girl behind. That’s when Oginski ran up, grabbed her crotch area and ran off, Brunecz said.

“The father, all of a sudden, heard her crying and turns around and says, ‘what happened?’ ” Brunecz said.

The girl told him and pointed to the man who had just attacked her.

“So he takes off after the defendant,” Brunecz said. “They go down this street, through all sorts of parking lots. He follows him the entire time and has eyes on him the entire time.”

All the while, the father was on his cellphone with police dispatchers, Brunecz said. Police caught up with them near City Hall and took Oginski into custody.

Asked about the father’s actions, Brunecz could only marvel.

“More power to him,” she said. The dispatcher “is telling him ‘don’t follow him’ — I’m sure that’s what they’re [trained to do] because they don’t want citizens to put themselves in harm’s way, especially when police are on their way. But he just kept following him, right after him.

“I suppose that’s what any father — the least a father would do in a situation like this,” Brunecz said.

Oginski was originally charged with misdemeanor forcible touching. The grand jury, though, came back with the felony first-degree sexual abuse count and the misdemeanor child endangerment count.

He pleaded guilty to those charges Thursday. Oginski accepted an offer made directly from acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino. Prosecutors were not involved in the deal.

Had Oginski gone to trial, he could have faced up to seven years in prison, Brunecz said. She had yet to speak with the victim’s family about Thursday morning’s plea. But she said the victim has been doing well.

“This is the kind of case that everybody thinks about and worries about when it comes to going out in public,” she said.

Oginski is to be sentenced in July. Family members will be able to give a statement in court.

When he gets out of prison he will be officially classified as a sex offender, probably for a longer period than the last time.

After his 2004 guilty pleas to two counts of first-degree sexual abuse in Saratoga County, Oginski was added to the state sex offender registry. In March 2005, he was classified a Level 3 sex offender, the highest risk to reoffend, records show.

He appealed the finding, arguing among other things that the court shouldn’t have considered a prior sex crime conviction from 1987, saying it was too remote in time to be a predictor of his likelihood of reoffending, according to the appeals ruling in that case.

In the 1987 case, Oginski was charged in Saratoga Springs with raping a woman in her apartment in October 1986. Oginski later pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse and was sentenced to six months in jail. There was no sex offender database at the time.

The 2004 sexual abuse case resulted in a sentence of time served and 10 years’ probation. It was unclear Thursday what led to that original plea, or how much time he had served. But Oginski had about seven months’ credit when he later went to prison for violating his probation.

Oginski then appealed his Level 3 classification to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, which upheld it in a December 2006 decision.

Oginski also appealed the plea itself, saying he wanted to take it back because he believed the plea included dismissal of other pending charges — including an unrelated drunken-driving charge — and it did not.

He ended up serving his time and getting out of prison in December 2006, records show. In a June 2007 ruling, the Appellate Division sided with Oginski, saying the wording of his original plea was too ambiguous on the issue of the unrelated drunken-driving case. The court allowed him to take his plea back and essentially reset the case to pretrial stages.

Saratoga County District Attorney Jim Murphy III, after reviewing Oginski’s file Thursday, said that after the case came back, it was three years after the original plea and six years after the alleged sex crime itself.

The sex crime was alleged to have occurred in 2001 and also involved an 11-year-old child, Murphy said, though one he knew, rather than a stranger.

When the case came back, though, it could not be prosecuted again, as the child’s family did not want to relive their nightmare by testifying against Oginski, Murphy said.

Prosecutors had an unrelated weapons charge pending against Oginski at that time. They got him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor weapons count in return for dropping the sex crime case.

The overturning of the original sex abuse plea also removed him from the sex offender registry. A check of the database Thursday showed no record of Oginski, though he does appear on other, unofficial, sites that apparently were never updated.

 
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