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Alleged molester’s confession aired at suppression hearing

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Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2013 5:00 am

WATERLOO — A local man said he sexually abused two young boys, but denied molesting a teenage girl, on an audiotape that was played Friday in Seneca County Court.

The admission came during a suppression hearing for Ronald Spoor. Spoor faces charges of predatory sexual assault against a child and criminal sexual act, both felonies, for allegedly touching the boys’ private areas while they were sleeping at his house. The predatory sexual assault charge, a class A-2 felony, is punishable by up to life in prison.

The only prosecution witness was state police Inv. George Grbic.

Grbic, accompanied by a worker from county Child Protective Services, went to Spoor’s residence on Gassner Road last December after the girl came forward with the allegations. He testified that Spoor was cooperative and went with him to the state police barracks in Waterloo.

At the time Spoor denied the allegations but agreed to take a lie-detector test at state police headquarters in Farmington. Grbic said Spoor was read his Miranda warning in Farmington.

Inv. Tom Crowley administered the polygraph. The results were inconclusive. Grbic testified that Spoor later admitted touching the boys and confessed during the roughly 15-minute-long audiotape.

On the tape, Spoor is heard saying he touched one boy a couple of years earlier while the boy was spending the night with Spoor’s son. Spoor said he touched the boy once.

“He didn’t like it,” Spoor said. “I asked him if he was OK and he said he didn’t like it. I told him I was sorry ... and not to tell anyone.”

Spoor said he fondled the other boy on two or three occasions but denied abusing the girl or other children.

“I did not touch her,” he said.

When Grbic asked Spoor why he touched the boys, Spoor replied, “I need my head examined.” Spoor also said when he was 5, he was abused by a 16-year-old boy.

Spoor’s attorney, Steve Getman, is arguing police improperly gave Spoor his Miranda warning in Farmington and should have given him the warning in Waterloo. Getman is seeking to have the audiotape suppressed and not played at Spoor’s trial.

Spoor’s trial hasn’t been scheduled.

Spoor also testified at the hearing. Under questioning from Getman, he said he had several beers before Grbic arrived at his house and had trouble understanding the Miranda rights. He claimed police coerced him into a confession after he repeatedly denied the allegations.

“They kept questioning me and saying I did it,” Spoor said. “They twisted it around when I said I might have touched him.”

Spoor, 50, was charged with crimes on three separate dates last December. In addition to the criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault charges, he faces a federal charge of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child; that charge arose after state police executed a search warrant at his home and seized items, including computer equipment, that is believed to contain child pornography.

Police said Spoor was a longtime Clyde resident before moving to Waterloo; one of his alleged victims is a Wayne County boy.

At the hearing, Spoor said he graduated from Clyde-Savannah with “low honors.” Spoor claimed he didn’t understand his Miranda warning because he has difficulty reading and writing.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Sinkiewicz, who is prosecuting the case, was skeptical about that claim, saying Spoor worked for several years as a machinist at Parker Hannifin, a job that required him to program codes into a computer.

Sinkiewicz argued that Spoor was not in custody while being questioned in Waterloo, the Miranda warning was properly given in Farmington, and the audiotape should be admissible at trial. He disputed Getman’s argument that Spoor’s statement was influenced by alcohol consumption, saying Spoor confessed nearly eight hours after Grbic went to his house.

“This really comes down to the credibility of witnesses,” Sinkiewicz said. “We feel there was no impairment and he gave a voluntary statement.”

Getman disagreed.

“He felt he had to confess or he would be arrested,” Getman said. “It was a tainted statement.”

During his testimony, Spoor said he has no prior criminal record other than a DWI arrest in the 1980s.

Bender will issue a written decision on whether the tape can be played at Spoor’s trial.

Spoor is now in the Yates County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail or $20,000 bond. District Attorney Barry Porsch said Spoor is under federal detention, and the Yates County facility is where federal officials are paying to have him held.

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