|Randolph B. Stark|
By D.W. Nutt
A retired New York State Police investigator who once served on a sex abuse task force was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse Wednesday in Tompkins County Court.
Randolph B. Stark, 61, was on trial for subjecting a woman to non-consensual sexual conduct while she was physically helpless on May 31 in the Town of Ulysses.
The decision was announced in a news release Thursday by the district attorney’s office.
Stark was arrested on June 1 and was charged with first- and third-degree sexual abuse.
According to court papers, late on the night of May 31, Stark touched a woman on her upper thigh and buttock area, under the waistband of her shorts, while she was asleep. Stark’s defense team argued for dismissal of the case, saying, in part, that no physical harm resulted from the touching and that Stark was drunk to the point of “blacking out,” thus unable to form the intent to commit a crime.
In denying the defense’s motion for dismissal on Nov. 5, Judge John Rowley wrote, “Defendant’s lack of a criminal record and prior public service pale in comparison to the potential harm to the alleged victim and the community if a retired police investigator’s sexual abuse charges were to be dismissed because there was no ‘physical harm as a result of the touching’ and because defendant was allegedly intoxicated at the time of the crime.’”
The judge also cited the impact on the public’s confidence if the case were dismissed.
“Defendant seeks dismissal precisely because he enjoyed a position of responsibility and power within the criminal justice system. The failure to treat him like any other accused person would be devastating to public confidence,” Rowley wrote.
Stark, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, was described in documents from the defense as a lifelong resident of the area who served in the U.S. Navy before joining the New York State Police. During his tenure with the state police, Stark worked undercover for five years. In 1987, he was promoted to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation as an investigator. In 1989, he received three commendations and two unit commendations. While serving in the Major Crimes Division from 1994 to 1997, he was named Investigator of the Year.
Stark served on the Sex Abuse Task Force from 1997 until 2000, along with current District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson. In 2000, Stark was promoted to senior investigator and was moved to the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team drug task force. Stark retired in 2003 and has since worked security for a number of area businesses.
The case went to trial in January and was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Wendy Franklin. Stark waived his right to a jury trial. He was represented by Ithaca attorney John A. Stevens. The New York State Police conducted the investigation.
Rowley dismissed a lesser charge of sexual abuse in the third degree.
Stark is scheduled to be sentenced April 9. He faces up to seven years in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender.