Batavia police spokesman Eric Hill pretty much admits that the police department is surprised that an alleged sex act in a Batavia park has become big regional news.
The initial press release was "local only," meaning it went out only to The Batavian, WBTA and the Batavia Daily News. Regional TV, radio and newspaper editors read all of those websites to help keep tabs on Batavia, so by Monday afternoon, the police department was besieged by a steady stream of media requests for more information.
At 3:45 p.m., Hill stood before half-a-dozen TV cameras and a barrage of mics and told the assembled reporters many things we already know, and added a couple of new details.
The angle driving the story up until now is the rare charge of adultery against Suzanne M. Corona, 41, of Ousterhout Street, and that unusual charge could lead to national news outlets picking up "BATAVIA , NY" datelined news stories.
If not "adultery," then Corona's comments late this afternoon to WHEC out of Rochester will certainly add a more sensationalistic angle.
Corona said that her husband of seven years is transgendered and that they have been unable to have sex. That is part of the explanation of what she calls “inappropriate behavior.”
Corona told News 10NBC, “One thing lead to another and this is what ended up happening…I feel terrible, especially for my family. It’s an embarrassment for my family. It just happened. There was no reason for it...it just occurred and obviously I wish it never happened. It wasn’t planned. I am very sorry for the situation.”
Corona also denied police allegations that she was actively engaged in sexual intercourse with 29-year-old Justin Amend on a picnic table in Farrall Park when Officer Matthew Baldwin arrived on scene at 5:15 p.m., Friday.
In an attempt to confirm Corona's statements with her, I drove over to her house after reading the WHEC story. She was not at home, but her unshaven and slightly disheveled husband was.
The 42-year-old Mr. Corona said he's been reading The Batavian. He said he wondered why nobody was considering him in this situation. I said that normally we don't try to talk directly with people involved in pending legal cases.
I asked him if he had seen the comments that his wife made. He said yes. I said, "You've seen her latest comments to News 10?" He said, "yes." I asked, "any reaction?" he said, "in what way?"
I asked him what he thought about her saying he was transgendered, and he said, "Do I look transgendered to you?" I said, "no," and he said, "well, there you go, then."
At this point, another reporter walked up. I reached for my tape recorder and asked to record our conversation. He said, "no." I then asked him, "but you do categorically deny what she said about you being transgendered." He said, "I don't understand your question." I said I just wanted to be clear that I understood exactly what he said. He told me I heard what he said.
He then told me that he's been reading what I've written about the case and considered me unfair and very narrow minded. He then backed into his doorway and shut the door.
As for Friday's incident, Officer Hill said that when Officer Baldwin approached the allegedly copulating couple, Amend had his pants down, but that Corona was mostly clothed.
"He asked what they were doing and they said, 'Just talkin'," Hill said. "Obviously, they weren't just talking."
Hill later said that upon more questioning, Corona said that they were just making out.
He described both as intoxicated at the time.
Officer Baldwin knew Corona was married, Hill said, because police have previously responded to calls at her residence.
Baldwin decided to charge Corona with adultery because the alleged facts as he knew them fit the penal code.
Section 255.17 of the New York State Penal Code reads:
A person is guilty of adultery when he engages in sexual intercourse with another person at a time when he has a living spouse, or the other person has a living spouse. Adultery is a class B misdemeanor.
A reporter also asked if Corona was married to, or formerly married to, any member of the Batavia Police Department. Hill said she has no direct relation to anybody in the police department.
UPDATE 11:05 p.m.: WHEC has deleted from its story online the transgender reference. I just spoke to a person on the news desk at WHEC who said, "I guess they felt it wasn't really relevant to the story." On further discussion he said, "she made all kinds of excuses" and added again that this excuse just didn't seem relevant or fair to the husband since they couldn't check it out.
UPDATE 11:30 p.m.: From WHAM 13's Sean Carroll:
The woman involved is charged with adultery in part because of statements she made to police. According to court papers she told an officer after her arrest:
"Officer I know what I did was inappropriate and I apologize but you'd understand if you knew what my life was like. I have a transgender husband and we never have sex. One thing led to another."
Carroll also reports that he spoke with Corona, and she didn't deny engaging in sex, "However, she said police are painting a picture that isn't accurate. She insists nobody was nearby and if they were that they would not have seen anything inappropriate."
Photos: Top photo, the view from the podium just prior to today's press conference at police HQ; first inset, Corona; second inset, plaque at Farrall Park; third inset, Amend; bottom photo, the picnic table area at Farrall Park.