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January 5, 2013

Charges dropped in Tupper Lake rape case

TUPPER LAKE — Sex charges, including rape, leveled against a Tupper Lake man were dismissed.

A Franklin County grand jury found “no reasonable cause to believe” James P. Matthews of Tupper Lake committed the alleged crimes that prompted his arrest last year, according to Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne.

The DA said Friday that files in the case have been sealed and are no longer public record, so details of the complaint and names of the women who brought them are not available to the media.

Matthews was arrested April 22, 2012, after a woman claimed he assaulted her near the Old Northern Pub in Tupper Lake between midnight and 2 a.m. that day.

Another alleged incident involving another woman brought further charges, Champagne said.

The Tupper man was arraigned and held in Franklin County Jail on a $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. He was accused of first-degree rape and two counts of criminal sexual act, all felonies.

NO PERJURY CHARGES

Both women testified before the grand jury, Champagne said.

“The grand jury listened to all the evidence presented,” he said in an interview Friday.

“They also heard testimony from Mr. Matthews, and the grand jury made a determination there was no reasonable cause to believe the crime had been committed.”

Jurors handed up a “no bill,” which is a legal term describing such a situation.

“Once they handed that decision up, my office received an order to seal all public records on the matter,” Champagne said.

A ‘no bill’ is not a determination of innocence, he added.

While a trial jury operates under a standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the DA said, “a grand jury has a standard of reasonable cause to believe.”

And while this group didn’t, as a body, find enough cause to move the case forward, he said, it also didn’t decide the two women had presented false testimony.

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