A Level 3 sex offender admitted Tuesday to felonies related to allegations he sexually touched girls age 7 and 9 over their clothing last year.
The defendant, 50-year-old Donald Ferry of Schenectady, pleaded guilty in Schenectady County Court to two felonies on the eve of trial. The trial, prosecutor Tracey Brunecz said, would have relied solely on the testimony of one of the girls.
Brunecz said she was prepared to go forward with the trial, but, due to the nature of the evidence in the case and to prevent the girl from having to testify in open court, her office offered and Ferry accepted a plea deal that will result in up to six months in jail and a full 10 years of probation.
Ferry pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree attempted sexual abuse. He formally admitted he attempted to subject the girls to sexual contact during the summer of 2014.
Judge Matthew Sypniewski approved the deal and accepted Ferry’s guilty pleas Tuesday afternoon. Ferry is represented by attorney Michael Horan, who could not be reached for comment later.
Brunecz said she discussed the offer with the girls’ families. The prosecutor added it would have been a huge burden to put an entire case on the shoulders of a now-11-year-old girl. Along with that would have come risks of not getting a conviction.
“Then it’s also difficult for an 11-year-old to come in and sit in front of the person who did this to her. . . . that takes a psychological toll on anybody, let alone a child,” Brunecz said.
She said the girl would have testified that Ferry touched her and a younger child on Van Vranken Avenue during the summer of 2014. Ferry did some handyman work, Brunecz said, and “saw an opportunity.” The allegations were that he touched the older girl on two occasions and the younger girl on one of those occasions.
The older girl disclosed the incidents to someone later and could only say they happened that summer, Brunecz said.
Ferry is a Level 3 sex offender, based on a 1984 Schoharie County conviction for first-degree rape.
A jury there found he raped a disabled woman. He served all 20 years of his 10-to-20-year sentence and was released in 2004.
He’s had no felony convictions since.
A rule that requires a state prison sentence upon a subsequent felony conviction goes for 10 years. In Ferry’s case, that would be 10 years after his release from prison, July 2014. Brunecz said they could not prove the incidents happened prior to that 10-year mark, only that they generally happened sometime that summer. Ferry remains free pending his January sentencing. He also remains listed as a Level 3 sex offender.