Press-Republican

October 29, 2013

Jury selection begins today in trooper rape case

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Jury selection begins today in Clinton County Court for State Police Trooper Trevor J. Donah’s rape trial.

This is the first of three trials slated for Donah, 32, one for each of three alleged victims.

On Feb. 5, he was charged with first-degree rape and first-degree attempted rape, allegedly involving two female victims.

A third alleged victim emerged less than a week later, as did more charges.

CHARGES

In all, Donah faces two counts each of first-degree rape, first-degree attempted rape and first-degree sexual abuse; three counts each of first-degree unlawful imprisonment, second-degree unlawful imprisonment and second-degree assault; two counts of third-degree assault; and two counts of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation.

All the charges are felonies except for second-degree unlawful imprisonment, third-degree assault and criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation.

The incidents allegedly occurred between 2008 and 2012, according to court records.

Donah knew the women, Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne previously told the Press-Republican. He said the assaults happened when the trooper was off duty.

Orders of protection for the three women were put in place after Donah’s arrest.

SPECIAL PROSECUTORS

After a conflict of interest was discovered early on in the investigation, the Clinton County District Attorney’s Office turned the prosecution over to the Franklin County DA.

Champagne has entrusted the case to Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Glenn McNeil, who will be working together with Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Crawford to prosecute Donah.

Crawford was assigned to the case initially.

“It was a disappointment,” Donah’s defense attorney, Brian Barrett of Lake Placid, said of the change in counsel. “I was looking forward to seeing him (Champagne) in the courtroom.”

“Three-quarters to probably 90 percent of my special-prosecutor assignments are not dealt by me directly,” Champagne told the Press-Republican.

Along with his responsibility for other cases, he said, he took three other factors into consideration before deciding to not personally prosecute the case.

Those are his duties with New York State Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, whether he is running opposed in the next election and whether Donah would face more than one trial.

“Doing three trials outside my trials now or anytime is not feasible,” he said.

And Champagne said he wants the same attorneys to handle all three cases to ensure continuity.

DEFENSE CO-COUNSEL

Barrett added Lorraine White as co-counsel for the trial.

White is a former chief of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.

Barrett said she began working with him on the case over the summer, and the two have joined forces on past cases.

Clinton County Court Judge Patrick McGill will preside.

PAID LEAVE

State Police initially suspended Donah for 30 days without pay in September and October 2012 while they conducted an internal investigation, Barrett said.

Donah worked as a uniform trooper from October 2012 until Feb. 5, 2013, the day of his arrest.

He was then suspended until March 7 without pay, and he has been on paid leave since then, Barrett said.

The State Police’s internal investigation will resume if Donah is found guilty by the court.

Information revealed in court proceedings is used in State Police internal investigations, which resume if a defendant is found guilty, State Police Troop B Commander Major Richard Smith said previously.

Email Felicia Krieg:fkrieg@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg