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1995 St. Petersburg accuser 'vindicated' by rape charge against Michael Scaringe

Michael J. Scaringe Jr. was acquitted of molesting a 14-year-old girl at a St. Petersburg middle school in 1995.

But the father of that girl, now a 29-year-old St. Petersburg woman, said news of Scaringe's arrest on a charge of raping a 13-year-old girl in upstate New York has his daughter feeling vindicated.

"Now, after all this time, they'll believe me," she told her father.

Her 61-year-old father said, "For 15 years, she's been branded a liar, for all intents and purposes, and it did affect her. She lost a lot of confidence."

The St. Petersburg Times is not naming the woman, her father or the girl in the New York case because of the nature of the accusations.

In an exclusive interview with the Times on Monday, the father said that he decided to speak out about the 1995 case because he doesn't want Scaringe's latest alleged victim to go through what his daughter went through.

"The guy's a bad dude," he said. "My daughter has never accused anybody of it before or since. She doesn't go around looking for attention. She's not the one who these things keep popping up against."

New York State police arrested Scaringe on Friday on a charge of first-degree forcible rape in an incident that police say occurred in December. He is the director of the Saranac Lake Youth Center, which the girl frequented.

In 1995, he was a substitute band teacher at Bay Point Middle School in St. Petersburg.

The Bay Point student accused him of fondling her breasts and buttocks, rubbing his crotch against her and trying to kiss her at school in February 1995.

During Scaringe's 1996 trial, his defense attorney said the girl made up the story to avoid being punished for skipping class. He was acquitted by a Pinellas County jury.

The St. Petersburg father said his daughter was brave to testify against Scaringe. He cautioned her that a trial could be difficult, but she went ahead.

"She said, 'You know, Dad, he could do this to someone else.' "

Dennis Griffin, principal of Bay Point from 1990 to 2005, said Monday he "never had any doubt" that the girl was being truthful about the accusations. He had known the girl and her family for several years before she became a Bay Point student.

Because Scaringe was a substitute teacher without contractual obligations, Griffin said, he was able to fire him immediately.

"I let him go right away," Griffin said. "You always err on the side of caution. There's no second-guessing it."

The most recent incident happened at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23 in an upstairs bedroom of Scaringe's home in Saranac Lake, N.Y., according to a felony complaint filed in Franklin County, N.Y.

In a court hearing Monday, the 13-year-old girl said she asked Scaringe for a ride home that day. She said he first stopped at his house and asked her to go inside to help him bring out some bags.

Once inside, "He started pushing me towards his bedroom," the girl said.

She said he raped her and then drove her home. She said she didn't tell anyone until her mother saw a text message she received from Scaringe.

"My mom got information out of me, and I told her the truth," she said.

The girl said she had felt uncomfortable around Scaringe before but never told anyone because she was "kind of scared to."

Scaringe's attorney said the girl had fabricated the story and called her version of events impossible.

Franklin County Chief Assistant District Attorney Jack Delehanty called Scaringe a flight risk because he has another home in Florida where he could "take refuge" and has family members living in other states who could help him.

Town Justice Thomas Glover, who presided over the hearing, upheld the felony rape charge and sent Scaringe back to the Franklin County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Information from the Adirondack Daily Express was used in this report. Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

1995 St. Petersburg accuser 'vindicated' by rape charge against Michael Scaringe 01/04/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 8:41am]

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