Judge Grants Bail to Claremont Man Charged in Rape Case
White River Junction — A Claremont man who has been held in prison for a week on a rape charge was ordered released on $50,000 bail yesterday after his attorney argued that the encounter was consensual.
During a hearing in Windsor Superior Court, the attorney for Jonathan Sadis, 23, said that a medical exam of the victim, a 21-year-old White River Junction woman, found no evidence of trauma, as sometimes is found during sexual assault cases.
“The issue in this case comes down to consent,” attorney Christopher Dall told Judge Robert Gerety. “There is no confession, no physical corroboration, no evidence of physical trauma.” To bolster his argument that Sadis should be released and allowed to reside with his parents under a curfew and other restrictions, Dall presented a letter from the Claremont Police Department in which police pledged to enforce any restrictions ordered by the judge. The letter was solicited by Sadis’ attorney.
That touched off a bit of a courtroom spat: Sadis’ mother, Deborah Cutts, is a former Claremont mayor and police commissioner, and according to a police affidavit, Sadis allegedly told the victim that his mother’s connections could help him escape trouble.
As police commissioner, Cutts is also part of the hiring authority for Claremont officers, although she was not on the commission at the time that Alex Scott, the current chief, was hired.
“The defendant was already providing us with a preview, that he (would) receive special treatment by virtue of his familial ties to the city of Claremont,” Deputy Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill said to the judge in arguing against Sadis’ release. Cahill acknowledged that he had no proof that Sadis was receiving any special treatment.
“It’s inappropriate for that to have been raised here,” Dall countered.
In an interview after the hearing yesterday, Scott said Sadis did not receive any special treatment from his department.
“If any attorney called and made that same request, they would get the same response,” Scott said.
Sadis has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and obstruction of justice, for allegedly threatening to harm the victim if she talked to authorities.
According to police, on May 1, the victim and Sadis were together in his car in White River Junction. He pulled into the parking lot of Country Kitchen, on VA Cutoff Road, and allegedly raped her.
The woman reported the incident to her mother and called police, and described physical evidence, including a towel, that were part of the assault, according to court documents.
Police recovered items matching her descriptions from the scene and Sadis’ car, according to court documents.
According to the police affidavit, Sadis acknowledged being with the woman that day, but denied that any wrongdoing had occurred. Phone records show that Sadis and the woman exchanged several text messages after the alleged incident — she explained to police that Sadis had told her to send texts to make it appear that everything was normal, said court documents.
The victim knew Sadis. As a general practice, the Valley News does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes.
During an interview with police, the victim said, “He has bragged about getting out of trouble in the past because his mother was the mayor of Claremont, NH and (I) know (she) has something to do with the Claremont Police Department,” according to a police affidavit.
During Sadis’ arraignment last week, Cahill, the prosecutor, opposed bail, in part because Cahill said he was unsure if New Hampshire police would be able to enforce regular restrictions — such as curfews, or no contact orders — that typically accompany bail.
Judge Gerety sided with Cahill, but Dall asked the judge to reconsider.
To bolster his case, the attorney reached out to Scott, the Claremont police chief.
Scott said he did not write the letter as a favor to the Sadis’ family — rather, he said, he was following the law, as he would for any defendant.
While bail conditions are not enforceable across state lines, restraining orders are: After the incident, the victim was granted a restraining order against Sadis, which remains in effect.
“There’s nothing … we wouldn’t do anyway, so if the court found anything useful in the memo, that’s good,” Scott said. “The memo says we will follow the law.” However, before he would sign the memo, Scott said that he requested Cutts to resign from the police commission — which she did.
Dall confirmed that account.
“I wanted to make sure there was no appearance of impropriety,” Scott said. “Based on that, she resigned.” The three-member Claremont Police Commission is charged with hiring and firing all officers and the chief.
Cutts was not commissioner, or a city councilor, when Scott was hired.
In court yesterday, Cahill asked the judge to continue holding Sadis in prison without bail, saying that Sadis’ threats to harm the victim should be of paramount concern.
“He is alleged to have assaulted a woman, he is alleged to have threatened her … if she told police,” Cahill said. “The question is, not that Mr. Sadis knows that he is facing up to life (in prison), (but) does he have greater incentive to make good on that threat, and is the court convinced that he will not make good on that threat?” But this time, Gerety sided with the defense.
“The court is persuaded that the defendant will comply with the conditions of release that will be put in place to ensure the protection of the public,” the judge said.
Mark Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3304.