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Schenectady man, former golf course commission chairman, gets prison in child criminal sex act case

Schenectady man, former golf course commission chairman, gets prison in child criminal sex act case

Guilty plea entered in July
Schenectady man, former golf course commission chairman, gets prison in child criminal sex act case
Donald Clough, in purple, in court in July
Photographer: Pete DeMola/Gazette Reporter

SCHENECTADY — The parents of the child who was sexually abused by city resident Donald Clough said they’re relieved his reign of manipulation, control, bullying and abuse has come to an end.

Revealed in the aftermath is his true self, they told the court:

“A cowardly and pathetic disgusting and dirty 65-year-old man who knew better, but didn’t care,” said the girl’s father in a victim impact statement. 

Clough, 65, was sentenced Thursday in Schenectady County Court to three years in state prison. He pleaded guilty earlier to one count of third-degree criminal sex act with a child, a felony. 

Clough admitted at his plea to engaging in “oral sexual conduct” with a 16-year-old female. The act occurred between March and April of 2018.

Clough had been active in city politics, having previously served as chairman of the Schenectady Municipal Golf Advisory Commission. 

Judge Kathleen Hogan ordered 10 years post-release supervision, and Clough must register as a sex offender. The judge also imposed an order of protection against the victim for 11 years.

“Don’t think that I think that three years is appropriate for what you did," the judge told Clough in imposing sentencing Thursday. "I think three years is good for her."

The parties agreed to a three-year sentence in order to spare the victim a prolonged public trial.

“For the sake of the child involved, the plea bargain was extended to him,” said Albany County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer McCanney, who was brought in to serve as special prosecutor.

Although the act occurred between March and April of 2018 at Clough’s McClellan Street residence, prosecutors and family members said the crimes began when the victim was as young as 11 or 12.

Clough apologized to the court before sentencing, but dismissed the activity as “unintentional.”

Hogan shot back: “Not only was it intentional, but it was manipulative and you stole the innocence of a child ... What you did is reprehensible, and it’s evil incarnate.”

In their statements to the court, family members of the girl said she had grown depressed and eventually sought counseling. Before Clough's abuse became apparent, he had even driven her to counseling sessions, the family said.

“Who knows what threats he put into her head on the way to counseling,” her stepmother told the court.

Clough's actions left a girl scarred and traumatized, and also destroyed a family in the process, she said. 

“We are broken all because of his disgusting need to touch a child,” the victim’s stepmother said. 

But despite his intimidation and threats, the girl will emerge triumphant and strong, the stepmother told the court. 

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