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Cazenovia funeral director pleads not guilty at arraignment

Brian H. Tait, right, is escorted out of the Madison County Public Safety Building by his attorney, Robert C. Whitaker Jr., after posting bail on Dec. 9.

Brian H. Tait, right, is escorted out of the Madison County Public Safety Building by his attorney, Robert C. Whitaker Jr., after posting bail on Dec. 9. Photo by Pierce Smith.

— The owner of Cazenovia's Tait Funeral Home pleaded not guilty to forcible touching, third-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child on Friday, Dec. 9.

Brian H. Tait, of Tait Funeral Home, was arraigned Friday morning in Madison County Court before Otsego County Justice Brian D. Burns.

Tait, 46, pleaded not guilty to seven misdemeanor charges: five counts of third-degree sexual abuse, one count of forcible touching and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, stemming from a New York State Police investigation in October.

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Brian H. Tait

Tait was first charged with one count of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of forcible touching on Oct. 12. State police allege Tait subjected a female former employee, 24, to inappropriate physical exams on Sept. 20, as conditions of her employment.

According to court documents obtained on Dec. 9, the five new charges were brought forth by four other accusers, including two minors ages 15 and 17, during the investigation.

Tait was charged with one count of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of endangering the welfare of a child after a 15-year-old female former employee contacted investigators. The document states that in August and September of 2009 and 2010, Tait "grabbed her underpants and pulled them down, exposing her private area."

The 17-year-old accuser told police she was subjected to improper physical exams in August 2010. Two other former employees, ages 21 and 22, claim Tait inappropriately touched them in May and June 2010

Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride, the lead prosecutor, said Tait could face a maximum of two years in county jail.

According to State Police Captain Mark Lincoln, Tait told workers the examinations were a safety precaution, to ensure they weren’t allergic to substances involved in the embalming process, such as formaldehyde.

Burns set bail at $2,500 cash or $10,000 bond and provided an order of protection for each accuser in the case. The judge also told Tait he is to have no unsupervised contact with any minors he is not related to.

Tait was taken into custody, though bail was posted shortly afterward.

Tait and his attorney, Robert C. Whitaker Jr., both declined comment after the ruling.

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