Cortland man charged in sex abuse case

A 60-year-old Cortland man was arraigned Monday on charges he sexually abused a child “over the course of several years,” beginning when the child was younger than 13, according to city police.

Danny Marks, of 5 Commando Ave., appeared before Judge Elizabeth Burns Monday afternoon on charges of first-degree criminal sexual act and first-degree sexual abuse, felonies involving offenses against a child under the age of 13. Marks was also charged with second-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor crime against a child younger than 14, as well as forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors.

Marks, with the aid of Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Marris, did not enter a plea on the felony charges, but entered a not guilty plea for the misdemeanors.

The charge of criminal sexual act refers to criminal oral or anal sexual conduct, while the charge of sexual abuse refers to “sexual contact,” according to the state penal code.

Police arrested Marks about 3 p.m. Friday at the city police station after an investigation into a report he had sexaully abused a child for multiple years, said city police Lt. Michael Strangeway. The abuse occurred at a residence on Commando Ave., Strangeway said.

At Monday’s arraignment, Marris noted Marks could not return to his home if he were to make his $5,000 cash or $5,000 bond bail, but was making arrangements to stay at the Econo Lodge at 10 Church St., Cortland.

District Attorney Patrick Perfetti requested Burns set bail at $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond, noting the seriousness of the charged crime and the amount of evidence against Marks.

“I think it’s reflective of how strong our case is,” Perfetti said.

A conviction of the top charge would require a sentence of state prison, Perfetti noted. “I would anticipate a plea disposition would also require state prison,” he added.

Marks understands how serious the charges are, argued Marris, and his limited financial means would make $1,000 in bail enough to ensure he returns to court.

“Furthermore, he’s not in the physical condition to flee,” Marris said. During the hearing, Marks’ five family members asked Burns how they could get his medications to him while he is in jail. It was unclear Monday what medical condition Marks has.

Marris noted Marks’ family support at his arraignment and added he has lived in Cortland his entire life. Marks also has no criminal history, Marris told Burns.

Marks held a job at the Speedway gas station on Tompkins Street in Cortland for the last five years and would return to work if out on bail, Marris said. However, his family is unable to meet the currently set bail amount, she said.

During the bail discussions, a woman in the audience jumped to her feet and yelled, “You’re not talking about the security of my niece who he raped!”

Court officers asked the woman to settle down and she opted to leave the courtroom instead.

Burns continued bail at $5,000 cash or $5,000 bond and scheduled Marks next hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday in City Court.

As officers led Marks out of the courtroom, his daughters told him, “I love you, Dad,” while his wife sobbed.

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