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Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Sean Vickers convicted in sexual abuse trial

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

It took a Genesee County jury all of 95 minutes to conclude that Sean Vickers did in fact molest five boys in Batavia over the several years prior to 2013.

The guilty verdict on five counts concludes a three-day trial in County Court.

Vickers will be sentenced at 10:30 a.m., Aug. 29.

The defendant stood motionless in a pressed black suit as the jury foreman was asked to recite the verdict on each of the five counts against Vickers.

Sodomy in the first degree: Guilty.

Sodomy in the first degree: Guilty.

Criminal sexual act in the first degree: Guilty.

Criminal sexual act in the first degree: Guilty.

Sexual abuse in the first degree: Guilty.

Previous coverage:

Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Raceway Mini-Mart on East Main, Batavia, has closed

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

The Raceway Mini-Mart at 629 E. Main St., Batavia, has closed.

A customer contacted us last week about the impending closure and said the store shelves were nearly bare as the owners wound down their operation of the location. She said the owners told her annual rent increases were making it harder to keep the business going. 

She said she was sad to see them close.

"They are the nicest store owners I have encountered," she said. "Every time I’ve gone in there I have just felt that they were so appreciative of my business, and their friendly nature is just so welcoming."

The property is owned by Kevin Brady, president of Townsend Energy in Le Roy.

Brady wasn't available for comment, but a Townsend employee said the building has been leased to another operator and will reopen, but no name or opening date is available at this time.

Photo and some reporting by Alecia Kaus / Video News Service.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Attorneys present their cases to the jury in sexual abuse case

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Inconsistencies in witnesses testimonies, a lack of evidence, and a witness who had motivation to lie are all reasons to find Sean Vickers not guilty of sexually abusing five boys in Batavia, defense attorney Jerry Ader told jurors today in closing arguments of the three-day trial.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman countered that Ader "nibbled around the edges" of the case and ignore inconvenient facts.

Jurors are being asked to decide whether Vickers is guilty of sodomy (the title of the law at the time of the alleged offenses) and criminal sexual act.

Vickers, a former Batavia resident, was living in Geneva at the time of his arrest. 

Ader, of the Public Defender's Office, told jurors that one witness told investigators at one time that he was eight years old when Vickers molested him; at trial, the same person said the acts occurred in 2011. 

Both statements couldn't be true, Ader said.

"You have people here who just don't remember what happened and when," Ader said. "That leads to whether these things happened at all."

Friedman said that while a person's childhood memories may be faulty about dates, they aren't faulty -- at least in this case -- about the searing memories of abuse.

None of the alleged victims at any point were inconsistent or recanted their testimony about specific acts of abuse, even if they couldn't place them at the right time in their lives.

"That's not something they forget," Friedman said. "That's not something they confuse with something else. That's something that sticks with them for the rest of their lives."

Ader said only one police officer testified at trial and provided only one fact relevant to the case.

"The people did not offer any evidence to support the alleged victim's testimony from an unbiased law enforcement investigation," Ader said. "You heard testimony from a forensic expert that interestingly can explain every inconsistency as being consist with child abuse. How convenient that every possible inconsistency can support sexual abuse."

There was an investigation, Friedman said. That's how some of the witnesses were located and their stories of past abuse -- or knowledge of abuse -- were brought to light.  

And the forensic expert didn't testify that inconsistencies were evidence. She explained, Friedman said, why children who have been abused sometimes lie, hide the truth, are fearful of coming forward and change their stories. 

"We're not at all suggesting that this is evidence of abuse," Friedman said. "This is a diagnostic tool. We're not saying if you find those factors it proves abuse. The purpose of her testimony is for you to hear from an expert with her speciality explaining why these things happen and don't happen."

The alleged victims were consistent in the key facts: their abuse, Friedman said.

"With five victims in this case, there is no indication of them ever retracting the allegations of sexual abuse," Friedman said. "There's no indication of peer pressure. There's no indication of suggestions by others."

Ader was especially critical of one witness, now an adult serving a state prison term for sexual abuse, who claimed to have been abused by Vickers when he was 12.

The witness has been denied parole before and has another upcoming parole hearing. That's motivation to lie, Ader said.

"He's been in prison for years," Ader said. "He's had more than enough opportunity to make statements, to contact police, to say something about (Vickers) for years, without any threats or promises. (Vickers) can't get him in prison. He can send an anonymous letter. Nothing. But now he needs to get out of prison, so he makes the allegations against (Vickers). How convenient."

The fact is, Friedman said, the witness had shared his allegation of abuse at the hands of Vickers 10 years ago, just not in as much detail as now.

Also, it's not like the witness came forward. An investigator located him and questioned him. There's no evidence the prisoner asked for or received special treatment in exchange for his testimony.

The jury started deliberations after receiving instructions on the law and the counts against Vickers this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Melee reported at Lewis and State, combatants wielding baseball bats

post by Billie Owens in batavia, crime

About 15 to 20 people are reportedly fighting, armed with baseball bats, at Lewis Place and State Street. City police are responding.

UPDATE 8:54 p.m.: Howard at the scene reports that there are six cop cars at the scene, including units from the Sheriff's Department. In addition, he said dozens of people "are milling about," some of whom are being interviewed by law enforcement. One witness told Howard that no baseball bats were involved.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Several vehicles with smashed windows and stolen valuables reported on Bank Street Road

post by Billie Owens in batavia, crime

At least 10 vehicles were broken into this evening on Bank Street Road at the Batavia Sports Park. The victims of these "smash-and-grab" crimes are missing purses, wallets, jewelry, credit cards and more.

Mostly, side windows were smashed, but one vehicle had a rear window smashed.

The crimes were reported by an off-duty deputy. State Troopers are on scene now.

Although soccer and kickball games were under way at the park, no witnesses have been found.

In addition to these crimes, it is reported that overnight on the city's Southside, at least four criminal mischief complaints resulted from vehicle break-ins.

For tips that may aid in the investigation, State Police can be reached at (585) 344-6200.

UPDATE 9:45 p.m.: Using mobile phone tracking technology, State Police were able to locate three bags of purses in a dumpster at a hotel in Clarence off the Thruway. No suspects found.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 6:57 pm

New home of Reed Eye built with historic preservation and customer care in mind

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Reed Eye Associations

In the past, when Dr. Ronald Reed has expanded his practice, he's erected gleaming new buildings from the ground up.

But not in Batavia.

Reed Eye Associates has opened its sixth location and Reed selected a location with character and ambiance and a bit of history.

The brick building at 39 Washington Ave., across from Austin Park, was most recently the City Schools administration building, but when originally built in 1903 by Edward Dellinger, it was an elementary school.

Batavia's most prominent architectural firm of the time, Henry Homelius and Son, designed the building.

In remodeling the interior, Reed has kept to an art deco theme with a touch of modernism in keeping with the character of the building.

"I saw the building listed online and went to the site and looked at the building and liked it," Reed said. "I called Tony Mancuso, who had the listing, and he gave me a tour. I thought, 'this building needs a lot of work, but it has some great bones.' "

Refurbishing the building also uncovered a little history. One brickmason left behind a note found in the stairwell that said the best men laid the bricks. Another worker in 1939 put a note in a bottle, which was found in a wall, that said "if you're reading this note, it means by now we're all in hell."  

Then there was letter on YMCA letterhead and postmarked 1913, address to a young Myron Fincher. The apparently mimeographed letter speaks of a young man worthy of attention who exchanged a correspondence with Frank Crane, a Presbyterian minister and newspaper columnist. The letter references the enclosed newspaper column, but the column was not in the envelop.

Fincher was born in 1898 in Corfu and worked on the family farm. His fondness for animals brought him to Cornell University. He became an internationally prominent veterinarian. Early in his career he received the Borden Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association. By the 1960s, he was working overseas in places such as Peru, Uruguay, Brazil, Greece, Nigeria and Italy.

Reed said it was thrilling for these little bits of history to be found in his old building.

Reed's company purchased the property from the school district in 2012 for $500,000 and its 13,452-square-foot building. The renovations cost more than $1.5 million and helped put the property back on the tax roles. Reed Eye received $140,861 in tax incentives through Genesee County Economic Development Center for the project.

The expansion of the practice, which was founded in Bushnell's Basin (Pittsford) in 1978 has come, Reed said, as the practice attracted more and more patients. Each time an office would grow beyond its capacity, rather than expand that location, Reed looked at his patient list and figured out where he had a concentration of patients who were driving some distance to get to his office.

First, Reed Eye expanded to Greece, then Irondequoit, then Newark followed by Sodus.

Expansion has been driven, Reed said, by his belief that doctors should focus on their patients.

No long ago, he said he was asked to speak to a group about the secret of his success. He declined, he said, because "there is no secret."

"My word of advise is 'take good care of your patients and your patients will take care of you,' " Reed said. "If that's the focus of your practice, the patients will build your practice. If you don't, you won't have a practice."

With more and more patients from Genesee County, particularly because of a partnership with Dr. Bill Lapple in Le Roy, Batavia seemed to be the natural choice for a sixth office complex.

Reed said there were simply no suitable sites for the office, which was one reason he considered the old school administration building.

The fact that it's large, with plenty of parking (and room for more), centrally located in the city and across the street from a park, where all advantages.

"The park helps give it a nice bucolic feel," Reed said.

In the redesign, as much of the old building was preserved as possible -- the arches, the worn stairway trampled by thousands of students over the years, and the old woodwork. There's even an old desk from the library that is being restored and will be a centerpiece of the entry hallway.

"I've had an interest for some time in historic preservation," Reed said. "We have a 100 year old house in East Rochester that we've been restoring. This seemed like the right thing to do."

The focus on historic preservation shouldn't imply that the practice isn't state of the art. Reed's optometrists, opthamologists and opticians (and even a facial plastic surgeon) have all new equipment to work with.

Read also believes in supporting the communities he does business in. He hires locally as much as possible, he said. Four key employees already with the Batavia office are longtime Batavia or Le Roy residents.

"When a patient walks in the door, they should recognize the people who work there as members of their community," Reed said. "I want to support the town because if the town supports me, it has to be mutual. We want to keep the dollars local."

There will be a ribbon-cutting and open house for Reed Eye Associations at 2 p.m., Friday.

Optomistrist Kimberly Rosati with patient Tanner Richardson, who was in the clinic Wednesday learning how to put in his new contact lenses (picture below).

 
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Batavia Downs security guard performs CPR on patron, saving a life

post by Howard B. Owens in Attica, batavia, Batavia Downs

A Batavia Downs patron is alive today because of the training and calm professionalism of a security guard who started CPR and helped administer defibrillation.

Cory Lapp is only 21, but he's already been a volunteer EMT with the Attica Fire Department for three years (he joined the department at age 16). His medical training came in handy while working security at the casino when he checked on a report of a patron who was down and unresponsive.

"There were a couple of people standing around, so I peaked over and realized he wasn't moving at all," Lapp said.

Lapp immediately started CPR and summoned a partner, Officer Bob Humphrey, to retrieve the defibrillator.

Together, they used the machine on the patient and the man revived and was later transported to the hospital.

The name of the patient has not been released.

As an EMT, Lapp has been called on to perform CPR before, but he said it still feels pretty good to save a life.

"It feels good to know that when he was in my hands, he was alive," Lapp said. "It's a good feeling. It's kind of hard to describe it."

As Lapp walked with a reporter through the facility, coworkers congratulated him.

"Good job, Cory," they said as he walked by.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Child on bike struck by Jeep at East Avenue and Walker Place

post by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents

A caller reports a child on a bicycle was struck by a Jeep in the area of East Avenue and Walker Place. City police, fire and medics responded.

This was initially reported as being at 34 Columbia Ave. Regardless, the victim is inside the residence at that address.

The vehicle was also described as being a gray van.

City fire is back in service. Police are speaking roadside with the driver.

UPDATE 5:13 p.m.: Medics are taking the patient to UMMC. He is described as 9 years old and complaining of right side pain and a bump on his head.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Batavia Concert Band move's tonight's show to GCC

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, Batavia Concert Band, entertainment, music

Due to the likelihood of rain, the Batavia Concert Band's performance this evening is moved to the Stuart Steiner Theater at GCC.

From the announcement:

Tonight's concert will feature bandmembers' and conductor John Bailey's favorite pieces from this Summer and years past. It'll be an audience (and musician) pleasing mix of movie themes, Big Band and Broadway tunes, and of course -- marches!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Child gives explicit testimony in sex abuse trial of Sean Vickers

post by Julia Ferrini in batavia, crime

The first witness this morning in the sexual abuse trial of Sean Vickers, a former Batavia resident, offered testimony that was jarring and explicit.

The child testified that Vickers forced him to perform oral and anal sexual acts.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman asked a series of questions about the acts, which the child answered in simple, direct language.

Friedman: "What did that feel like?"

The witness: "It didn't feel good. I cried."

That witness and a second child testified to alleged abuse in early Autumn, 2012.

Defense attorney Jerry Ader asked the first witness about family outings with Vickers.

"You had said that Sean (Vickers) bought things for you. Were these purchases just for you?"

"No."

"So when you went out with Sean, he paid for those outings?"

"He paid for outings, but I'm really not sure."

Next, Ader switched gears. Reminding the first witness that he had been asked these questions before, right here in Batavia, where the witness had responded that nothing ever happened; also asking the witness if he had said anything to anyone about Vickers, to which the witness responded, no.

"I said nothing happened because I was scared."

After Ader's questions to the witnesses, the DA asked if Vickers had said anything to them. "Do you like it?" "You can't tell anyone" and "You have to promise not to tell anyone" were the responses.

The third witness's memory was a bit shaky at times and Ader masterfully cast doubt as to the credibility of said witness.

"When you were here before in front of the Grand Jury you had said that Vickers told you not to say anything to anyone, yet today you are saying that he said nothing?"

"Yes."

"So, which one is the truth?"

"He didn't say anything."

Friedman countered Ader, asking the witness to think back at the time in 2012 and asked the witness again if Vickers said anything to him and again, the witness again said he (Vickers) did not say anything to him.

However, Friedman also asked the witness if he had said anything to anyone about what Vickers did to him.

"Yes. My Uncle and Dad."

"You didn't tell your Mom?"

"No."

The morning's final witness testified that Vickers had spent several weekends in their home as well as a relative's home where the boys had often gone to throughout the Summer, occasionally spending weekends there. The witness also verified that Vickers purchased items for the family, as well as, treated them to outings such as skiing, camping, the zoo, and the movies.

"Whatever the boys wanted, they got."

Friedman asked the witness if Vickers had ever took videos of the boys, whereas the witness affirmed. However, Ader countered that objections to the videos being taken were never voiced, to which the witness concurred. Ader also pointed out that the witness could not definitively say that Vickers was at the residence where the boys spent an occasional weekend, as the witness was not the only person who had dropped them off.

Before the jury entered the courtoom for the morning testimony, Ader objected to the use of two prosecution witnesses. The jury is already aware of the effects of child abuse, Ader argued. Friedman said the expert testimony is necessary for the jury to have a complete understanding of the effects of child abuse. Judge Robert C. Noonan overruled the objection.

The trial resumes at 2 p.m.

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