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Obviously, what's been very frustrating for my office, is the fact that could he have been stopped 30 years ago.

Rape trial reveals past allegations

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The rape trial of former Saranac Lake youth center director Michael Scaringe turned up allegations of sex abuse dating back to his teaching days in Tupper Lake in the 1970s. Franklin County's district attorney now says school officials knew of the allegations and apparently didn't report them to police. Chris Knight reports.

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Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

Scaringe was convicted Wednesday of raping a 13-year-old girl at his home in Saranac Lake in December 2009. He was 61 years old at the time. Before returning its guilty verdict, the jury heard testimony from four Tupper Lake women who said they were sexually abused by Scaringe when they were students and he was a music teacher in Tupper Lake schools in the 1970s. At the time, he was known as Michael Josephson, his stepfather’s last name.

The women said they never told their parents what happened, but at some point, Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne says one of the alleged victims said she reported the abuse to school officials. “We confirmed with a school board member that they were advised of this, and that that was the reason why Mr. Scaringe, who obviously went under a different name at the time, his contract was not renewed,” said Champagne. That was at the end of the 1975 school year.

Scaringe was let go, and the only public explanation given by school officials was that they weren't happy with Scaringe’s job performance. Tom McCarthy, who was high school principal at the time, said they had concerns about Scaringe's interaction with some students but never had anything that would "hold up."

"We talked to him about it, he denied it, and it didn't go any further than that,” McCarthy told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in January 2010, not long after Scaringe’s arrest in the Saranac Lake rape case. Champagne said the alleged abuse seemed to be swept under the rug, leaving a lot of unanswered questions. "Why wasn't it reported to law enforcement? If it was, why wasn't anything done? How did this person, who clearly inflicted a lot of damage in our community, how was he essentially just allowed to leave town?”

Scaringe eventually relocated to Florida. In 1995 he was arrested on charges of molesting a 14-year-old girl at a St. Petersburg Florida middle school where he was working as a substitute band teacher. He was ultimately acquitted at trial.

Champagne acknowledged there's nothing he can do about the alleged crimes Scaringe committed in Tupper Lake now, as the statutes of limitations have long since expired. He just wishes something would have been done 30 years ago.  "There's nothing I can do for these women that have come forward. There’s no way for me to right the wrong that's been done to them," he said. “Obviously, that’s what’s been very frustrating for my office, is the fact that could he have been stopped 30 years ago, and what kind of trail of devastation has he left between here and Florida in the last 30 years?"

Scaringe is currently in the Franklin County Jail with no bail, pending his sentencing later this summer. He faces a maximum of seven years in state prison.

 

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