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St. Johnsville farmer guilty of abusing Amish boys

St. Johnsville farmer guilty of abusing Amish boys

A Montgomery County Court jury found a St. Johnsville farmer guilty Tuesday of more than three dozen
St. Johnsville farmer guilty of abusing Amish boys
Robert Madsen, 48, of St. Johnsville is escorted from the Montgomery County Courthouse in Fonda into a Montgomery County Sheriff's Office patrol car Tuesday, April 7, 2015, after being convicted of 37 of 40 counts filed against him in a child sex abuse...
Photographer: Matt McKibben

A Montgomery County Court jury found a St. Johnsville farmer guilty Tuesday of more than three dozen charges of sexually abusing six Amish boys over several years.

Robert Madsen, 48, was convicted on 37 of the 40 counts against him, including the most serious charge of predatory sexual assault, a charge that carries a sentence of up to 25 years to life. He will be sentenced May 27 by Judge Felix Catena.

Several members of Madsen’s family were crying as a juror read the guilty verdicts. After the verdict, Madsen attempted to console distraught family members seated several feet behind him.

As he left the courthouse Tuesday, Madsen’s attorney, Steven Coffey, said he would appeal the verdict but did not comment on the trial. Following the verdict, Montgomery County District Attorney James “Jed” Conboy said “this was a tragic case on both sides of the ledger.”

“The verdict demonstrates that this man had a significant negative impact on three different families: the two Amish families, as well as his own,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this case affects relations between the Amish and non-Amish communities. How much trust has been lost by the Amish in the non-Amish as a result of this one man’s actions?”

Conboy added that the three not-guilty verdicts demonstrated the jury “scrutinized” this case and took its time deliberating.

“They obviously reviewed all the testimony,” he said. “My guess is that in all their review, they determined that there was not sufficient proof with regard to dates on those three counts.”

The allegations against Madsen came to light in January 2014 when a then-20-year-old Amish man contacted a neighbor who had ties to law enforcement. As the investigation progressed, state police said they found two of his brothers were also abused, as were three boys in a second family from a different Amish community.

During proceedings last week, Conboy wanted to make it clear the two families were from different Amish communities, did not worship together and did not send their children to the same school. Their only connection was Madsen, he said. Conboy also said there is a sense of innocence in the Amish community, and their culture is very different from everyone else.

Conboy told the jury in his closing argument that Madsen’s son had recalled his father telling him that “he won’t be proud of what he did, but he will be proud of how he handles it.”

Coffey argued Madsen, who is gay, did not have sexual contact with any of the alleged victims until they turned 17, the legal age of consent in New York state, so it wasn’t a crime. He said one accuser even traveled from Stone Arabia to St. Johnsville to have sex with Madsen in a cabin on his property.

Coffey attempted to prove the two Amish families worked together to craft a story that would convict Madsen.

Following his conviction, Madsen was taken to the Montgomery County jail.

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