DA, defender both satisified with rape case outcome

MAYVILLE — A Stockton man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to second-degree rape has been sentenced to six months time served in jail in addition to 10 years of probation.

Leland Bresee was sentenced March 25 in front of Chautauqua County Court Judge David Foley in Mayville. The 35-year-old Bresee — who had been indicted on first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault against a child — pleaded guilty during the third day of trial Jan. 31, after a plea was offered by the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office.

Bresee’s attorney, Public Defender Ned Barone, noted that the first-degree rape charge carried a possible sentence of up to life in prison. He said Bresee maintained his innocence on the most severe charge leveled against him.

“From our position and perspective it worked out very well,” Barone said.

The Stockton man was jailed after investigators with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office looked into “suspicious activity” that took place in early February 2018. Police alleged Bresee had sexual intercourse with a victim under 18 years old without consent.

Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson said he was satisfied with the work done by Lynn Schaffer, the attorney from his office handling the case. He also said it’s not unusual for an offer to be made during trial.

“We’re not in the business of counting wins and loses,” Swanson told The Post-Journal. “There are always a number of factors that come up at trial.”

After sentencing, the district attorney pointed to three takeaways from the trial: Bresee admitted guilt in court; he pleaded guilty to second-degree rape with knowledge that he would have to register as a sex offender and be on supervised probation for the next decade; and that the victim would not have to take the stand and relive what happened.

“The ADA handled everything like they were supposed to,” Swanson said. “We received the best possible outcome that the situation allowed. I spoke with the ADA, and I firmly believe what transpired is what needed to be done. Trials can be very fluid sometimes.”

“I think my attorney handled things competently,” he added. ‘You have to be mindful of the impact on the victim. There’s closure for the victim and not having to testify.”

Barone said evidence that was not presented prior to the trial came to light by the third day in court. After selecting a jury and hearing from a few witnesses, the public defender said “it became obvious that there were problems with certain issues that raised doubt to the indictment.”

With the new evidence and based on early witness testimony, Barone said the offer was “too good to pass up.”

“There were a number of things that I think contributed to it,” Barone said of the offer. “What we look at going into the trial as the defense are a number of things – not knowing what the jury is going to do; there’s the possibility of life in prison, and for some people taking that into consideration, the No. 1 thing they want to do is walk away from jail.”

In addition to probation, an order of protection against Bresee was also issued, a county court clerk said.