Guilty plea in ‘unthinkable’ child abuse case 

A 20-year-old Riverhead man pleaded guilty last week to repeatedly raping a younger cousin he babysat over the course of four years, beginning when the victim was 5 years old, according to Suffolk District Attorney Raymond Tierney.

The DA’s office said they are not naming the defendant in order to protect the identity of the child victim. 

“This defendant, was entrusted to care for his younger cousins, instead subjected one of them to unthinkable sexual abuse for years of her young life,” Mr. Tierney said in a press release. “This guilty plea and ensuing prison sentence will ensure that the victim can begin to heal from the trauma that she endured without being subjected to testifying in court against her abuser and cousin.”

According to court documents and the defendant’s admissions during his plea allocation, the defendant began living with the victim’s family in August 2018. The defendant acted as a babysitter for his two cousins who also lived in the home: the female victim, who was 5 years old at the time, and her 2-year-old brother. The defendant also assisted in getting the children off the school bus while their parents were working, according to Mr. Tierney. 

Between August 2018 and March 2022, the defendant repeatedly raped the victim during the times he was home alone watching the children. When the victim told the defendant that she would tell her mother what he was doing, the defendant threatened to kill her or her beloved pet cat if she said anything. 

In March 2022, the defendant raped the victim, who was then 9 years old, in front of her brother, who was then 6 years old. After seeing his sister in distress, the boy put the victim’s cat on the bed where the rape was occurring, and the cat scratched the defendant, which stopped the abuse. 

Shortly after that day, the victim’s mother noticed that the children were apprehensive about being alone with the defendant. When the mother inquired why, the boy told her what he saw happen to his sister, and that the defendant “hurts” the victim. The mother immediately called police, and the defendant was arrested. 

On July 28, the defendant pleaded guilty before county court Judge Karen Wilutis to the charge of rape in the first degree, a Class B violent felony. He is due back in court for sentencing on Sept. 6 and is being represented by the Legal Aid Society. 

This case is being prosecuted by assistant district attorney Michelle Chiuchiolo of the Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Bureau, with investigative assistance from Detective Richard Anderson of the Riverhead Town Police Department.