St. Lawrence County rape conviction tossed: the ruling, the reaction & the ramifications
ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - Justice or a travesty? There’s strong reaction to a legal decision that threw out a St. Lawrence County rape conviction.
It all started in 2009 when Andrew Regan was accused of raping a Norwood woman.
It took years, but the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office took Regan to trial.
The jury found him guilty, and he was sent to 12 years in prison.
Then, last month, the New York Court of Appeals overturned the conviction. Now, Regan is free, and his record has been wiped clean.
“It’s very upsetting looking at the decision that came out,” said District Attorney Gary Pasqua, who was not the DA when the Regan case was active.
Pasqua calls the decision “a travesty.” He says he broke the news to the rape survivor.
“I’m most disappointed for the victim in this matter. I certainly don’t think it’s justice that’s been done with this decision,” he said.
In a 4-to-2 decision, judges ruled Regan’s constitutional right to a prompt prosecution was violated.
“In this case, Mr. Regan lived under a cloud of uncertainty for four years before the police and prosecution decided to ultimately act,” said Matthew Hug, Regan’s attorney.
Judge Rowan Wilson wrote the majority opinion, saying prosecutors took too long to get a warrant for Regan’s DNA, evidence that was crucial to the case.
The judge describes obtaining a warrant as a “simple” process that should take a day. Instead, it took 31 months. The only specific reason given for the delay was that the prosecutor assigned to the case didn’t know how to get a warrant.
“It just strains credulity to say that you didn’t know how to do it. So, I don’t know if it was incompetence as far as it was just they jumped on that excuse as the only thing that they could come up with,” said Hug.
In his opinion, Wilson says the constitution “does not allow for lengthy unexplained or, as here, inexplicable delays caused by lethargy or ignorance of basic prosecutorial procedures.”
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Madeline Singas wrote the court’s decision will “be weaponized against victims”
“If law enforcement negligently delays rape investigations, women’s voices will continue to be stifled, rapists held unaccountable, and jury verdicts discarded,” she wrote.
Pasqua says the decision will have ramifications across the state.
“Every defendant across the state is going to cite to this case,” he said. “It is now an opportunity for them to point to this case to say this is why our case should be dismissed because look what they did here.”
Regan’s 2015 trial took place when Mary Rain was St. Lawrence County’s district attorney. We were unable to reach her for comment.
Nicole Duve was DA when the Regan case began. She calls the appeals court’s decision “unusual because there are other cases where the delay has been longer and it hasn’t been a problem.”
Through attorneys, Regan and the woman he was accused of raping declined to comment.
Read the full decision below:
Andrew Regan Decision by Diane Herb Rutherford on Scribd
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