Hobart rape suspect wants statements quashed
Geneva Police Detective Gregory Bendzlowicz testified Thursday that, while walking down a Hobart College dorm hallway, he and a campus officer overheard accused serial rapist Preston Wido talking to a young woman about one of his accusers.
Bendzlowicz said he heard a man, who he later learned was Wido, exclaim, “Everyone knows (she) is a slut! ... I might have felt her up, but that was it.”
A short while later, Wido allegedly told the detective that the alleged victim “was intoxicated” and “had come to him, and that he didn’t do anything wrong.”
Wido’s defense attorney, John Parrinello, wants those alleged verbal statements and others recorded by police suppressed if the case goes to trial.
Wido, 20, of Latham, Albany County, is accused of sexually abusing a former classmate at Hobart and William Smith colleges in Geneva and raping three others between September 2005 and Feb. 2, 2007. Two separate indictments charge him with first- and third-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse and first- and third-degree committing a criminal sexual act — formerly known as sodomy.
In a hearing before Judge William Kocher in Ontario County Court Thursday, Parrinello asserted that police failed to properly advise his client of his rights at key points in their investigation.
One instance was back on Feb. 6, when Bendzlowicz went to Wido’s dorm room in Jackson Hall, Parrinello explained outside the courtroom. “The safest way is to walk in the room and to immediately read him his rights,” he said.
Bendzlowicz testified that he didn’t read Wido his rights then because he was investigating a complaint by a female student that Wido had inappropriately fondled her, and he wasn’t yet under arrest. “It would be irresponsible for me to arrest him without attempting to talk to him,” he testified.
During that initial conversation, Wido allegedly asked the detective if he needed an attorney. Bendzlowicz said he told him “that’s not up to me,” and then asked, “Are you telling me you need an attorney?”
Wido said he didn’t, according to the detective. The two went to the Geneva Police Department, and, without any prompting, Wido allegedly told the detective that the girl “came on to me.”
The detective said he immediately read Wido his Miranda rights from a department-issued card, and then he took a formal statement, once again asking Wido to read the Miranda rights written on the statement form.
Parrinello also wants the judge to quash statements made by Wido at a police department in Albany County a month later, when was charged with raping the second two of the total four alleged victims.
After telling Wido that the girls had accused him of forcible rape, the detective said he “immediately” read him his rights. Bendzlowicz said Wido went on to tell him he did not rape the girls, but had sex with them in his room on different occasions.
Parrinello maintains that his client did not answer the latter parts of the Miranda warnings, called the “waiver” that asked if he understood the rights and wished to speak. “He never said ‘Yes, I’ll talk to you,’” the defense attorney said outside court.
Kocher has yet to rule on whether prosecutors will be able to offer the statements as evidence.
Thursday’s hearing last several hours and included a few fiery exchanges between Parrinello and Ontario County District Attorney R. Michael Tantillo. Parrinello raised objection after objection while Tantillo questioned the detective.
At one point, when Parrinello suggested that police had heard the first alleged victim was promiscuous, an obviously annoyed Tantillo, pointing his pen, said the attorney was being “grossly inappropriate.”
Parrinello told the D.A.: “You shouldn’t point your pen at me like that.”
Tantillo replied, “You’re far enough away, John. It isn’t going to hurt you.”
Last fall, Kocher decided to allow Wido’s family to put up their personal property to make bail — $75,000 secured surety bond.
His mother, Elizabeth Wido, and other supporters accompanied him in court Wednesday, as they have in the past, and did not wish to speak about the case to a reporter.
Jessica Pierce can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 250, or at email@example.com.