Former Cazenovia College student acquitted on rape charges

— A former Cazenovia College student was acquitted of raping a female classmate in 2009 by a Madison County jury on April 10.

Adrian Sutherland, now 25, of Brooklyn, was found not guilty of third-degree rape after a four-day jury trial, said Madison County Assistant District Attorney Robert Mascari, who prosecuted the case.

Sutherland, a member of the college basketball team from 2006-2009, was arrested in September 2009, while he was a senior at Cazenovia College, following an allegation that he sexually assaulted an 18-year-old freshman female acquaintance in his dormitory room.

He was indicted by the Madison County Grand Jury in October 2009 on charges of first-degree rape and first-degree sexual abuse, both felonies, although both charges were ultimately dismissed by a judge. The district attorney’s office re-filed for rape in the third degree, on which Sutherland was indicted. The county court dismissed that indictment in June 2011, declaring that the prosecutor’s “misstatement of law” during a grand jury proceeding denied the defendant his right to testify.

In March 2013, the state appellate court reversed the county court’s dismissal, declaring there was legally sufficient proof to support the indictment.

While Sutherland’s case wound its way through the court system, he graduated from Cazenovia College with a degree in sport management in 2010. As of late 2013, he was working in New York City with Mindshare, a global media agency, according to a September 2013 Cazenovia College Project REACH newsletter article.

Sutherland was tried two weeks ago on the charge of rape in the third degree in Madison County court, with the case lasting from April 7 to 10. While Mascari argued that Sutherland committed rape, defense attorney Frank Mellace said the sex was consensual.

Following four days of testimony, Mascari said the jury deliberated for a little more than two hours before reaching a verdict of not guilty.

“We of course are disappointed in the result,” Mascari said. “We needed to [prove the case] beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury listened closely, deliberated fairly and we have to respect the result they reached.”

Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at editor@cazenoviarepublican.com.

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