Schenectady County

Man pleads guilty to rape, faces 10 years

In the days leading up to the rape trial of Dave Jones Jr., prosecutor Jessica Lorusso feared her ke

In the days leading up to the rape trial of Dave Jones Jr., prosecutor Jessica Lorusso feared her key witness might never materialize.

The woman who Jones pulled into a wooded area near Vale Cemetery and raped last August had disappeared, the assistant district attorney said. Absent this testimony, Lorusso offered Jones a plea deal in which he would have served about 21⁄2 years in prison.

“We didn’t know where she was,” she said Friday. “If we didn’t have her, obviously our case was gone.”

But after a weekend of sleuthing by Investigator Christine Hotaling, the 25-year-old homeless woman was located, living behind a store in Orlando, Fla. With the victim agreeing to fly back to Schenectady, Lorusso offered Jones, 59, a final plea deal on Monday: four years in state prison.

He rejected the offer and is now facing more than a decade in state prison. Jones agreed to plead guilty to attempted rape in the first degree after the victim gave her testimony on Thursday.

As part of a plea bargain, counts of first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree criminal sex act were dropped. On June 20, Jones is scheduled to be sentenced to 10 years in state prison followed by seven years of post-release supervision and mandatory sex offender status.

“Quite frankly, I was shocked,” Lorusso said of Jones’ rejection of the initial plea deals. “I’m sure he was banking on the fact that we wouldn’t find her.”

Jones’ attorney, James Davis of Schenectady, did not return phone calls Friday.

The woman told police she had been walking in Vale late in the afternoon when a man on a bicycle approached, dragged her into the woods and raped her over a four-hour period. Neighbors heard her cries for help and alerted authorities.

Investigators later found Jones walking down the street, minus his shoes and wearing only thermal pants. Police said they found sneakers, a pair of pants and a wallet containing Jones’ identification at the scene, a patch of bushes near Maple Avenue.

Jones has a lengthy criminal record, including a prior history of sex offenses in both New York and New Jersey, Lorusso said. Prior to his plea, he was facing a prison sentence of 25 years to life.

Lorusso was pleased with the outcome of the case. She said the guilty plea meant justice for a victim who almost slipped through the cracks.

“She was extremely happy,” she said. “She was proud of herself for facing him.”

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