Allegations fly, lawyers spar as Sapienza sex trial opens

QUEENSBURY Opening arguments for the Sapienza sexual abuse trial began Monday at the Warren County Court with Warren County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Donlon detailing, point-by-point, his case against the 43-year old Warrensburg restaurant owner, Anthony Sapienza, who faces 17 charges, accusing him of various sex acts with two underage girls. Disputing the allegations, Assistant Public Defender Timothy Tyree also laid out his defense plan for the jury, which was half women, half men. Sapienza is charged with a total of 17 counts which include charges of Second degree Rape, First degree Criminal Sex Acts with a minor under the age of 15 by means of forcible compulsion and Endangering the Welfare of a Child, according to the Grand Jury Indictment. Last December, Sapienza was arrested by State Police after being discovered by a trooper in what Donlon called a dark corner of the northbound rest area near Exit 18 on I-87 Northway with a then-16-year-old Warrensburg girl. After further investigation, the Warren County District Attorneys Office filed formal charges, alleging that the sexual relationship with the girl had been ongoing for some time. Furthermore, an alleged past sexual relationship with a 14 year old girl from Long Island in 2005 was also uncovered, Donlon said. We will prove to you that there are no coincidences or misunderstandings when it comes to child sex acts, Donlon said to the jury as he dramatically pointed to Sapienza. He (Sapienza) began to groom her, telling her she was pretty and paying special attention to her while she worked for him during the summer of 2007 when she was 15. According to Donlon, the girl received from and performed oral sex on Sapienza on numerous occasions throughout the summer and fall of 2007. The majority of the alleged incidents occurred either at Sapienzas Italian restaurant on Rte. 9 in Warrensburg or in Pack Forest. One of the alleged incidents even occurred behind the bar of the restaurant while the business was open, Donlon said. Allegedly, this wasnt the first incident when Sapienza engaged in an ongoing sexual relationship with a minor, as alleged by the prosecution but disputed by the defense. In 2005, Sapienza met a 14-year-old girl from Long Island after he began dating her mother. Over time, he began showing her significant attention and gave her alcohol, Donlon said. During the summer of 2005, Sapienza began fondling the girl and eventually the two had intercourse, according to the prosecution. However, the relationship ended when Sapienza forcibly held the girl down and insisted she perform oral sex on him against her will according to Donlon, but disputed by the defense. Sapienzas Defense Attorney, Timothy Tyree argued that both alleged victims have histories of lying to authorities. The Long Island girl made a statement to police alleging that her early knowledge of sex stemmed from a relationship with a schoolmate prior to making claims against Sapienza, Tyree said. I have spent a lot of time working with young kids, Tyree said in his opening statement. Young people are very impressionable and easily manipulated. Tyree said that when pressed during the Grand Jury hearing, the State Trooper who discovered Sapienza and the girl at the rest area did not actually observe any illegal activity. The claims against Sapienza followed a three hour interrogation of the girl, Tyree said. We are dealing with deadly serious stuff here, Tyree said to the jury. If the proof is not there, you must set aside your emotions and acquit, he said. Later Monday one of the two girls testified, detailing her relationship with Sapienza and accusing him of incidents of sexual abuse. The second teen , who was 14 when Sapienza allegedly had sex with her, will likely testify Wednesday when the trial resumes.

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