A city man was sentenced Thursday in Cortland County Court to two years in prison and 10 years of post-release supervision for sexually abusing a girl relative for five years, beginning when she was 11 years old.
Danny L. Marks, Sr., was also accused of sexually abusing two other female relatives and physically abusing a male relative when they were children, according to court documents. Marks is not charged in those incidents.
Marks, 60, of 5 Commando Ave., pled guilty in May to felony first-degree sexual abuse and was sentenced as part of a plea bargain. If convicted at trial, Marks could have been sentenced to between five and 25 years in prison and between five and 20 years of post-release supervision, according to the plea offer. Cortland City Police arrested Marks on March 15 and charged him with two violent felonies, first-degree criminal sex act by forcible compulsion and first-degree sexual abuse. He was also charged with five misdemeanors: second-degree sexual abuse, two counts of forcible touching and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Assistant District Attorney Jessica M. Weynant told Judge Julie Campbell she would have sought a stiffer sentence, but the girl attacked in the case supports the plea deal, is a relative of Marks and has developed a relationship with him.
The girl told city police Sgt. Cheyenne Cute in a sworn statement that she loves Marks and does not want to see him imprisoned.
“He is older and has diabetes, and has a prosthetic leg and has heart issues,” the girl said. “If he goes to jail, he could die in jail and I don’t want him to die. I don’t want my family to be torn apart over this.”
The girl also told Cute she knew she had to come forward.
“I know if I kept this in forever, it would be bad for me,” she stated. “I don’t want to go to jail, but I know what he did was wrong.”
City officers launched an investigation into Marks in January after a school social worker was told the girl was being attacked by Marks, according to a police report.
“ didn’t know it wasn’t normal until someone told her it wasn’t normal,” Weynant said of the abuse at sentencing.
In her police statement, the girl said Marks told her, “he was touching me because he couldn’t do these things with anymore, so he had to do them to me.”
Campbell noted at sentencing Marks blamed the girl for the attacks, as well.
“In my 16-plus years on the bench, I cannot say how many defendants asserts culpability on the part of the victim,” Campbell said.
Marks claimed in his sworn police statement the girl “came on” to him and wore “skimpy clothes.”
“By coming on to me, I mean that she would flash her boobs at me and ask me to touch them,” Marks told Cute. “Like a fool, I did.”
Campbell also noted Marks stated he regrets his actions and has no prior criminal history.
“The seriousness of the present offense cannot be ignored,” Campbell said, adding the girl is likely not his “first child victim.”
Two witnesses told police Marks sexually abused two other female relatives while they were girls, according to Cute’s report. One witness also said Marks previously physically abused a boy relative.
Marks shook his head “no” during parts of Campbell’s statement during sentencing, as if he disagreed with some of the accusations against him. He declined to make a statement at the hearing.
In his police statement, Marks said he was foolish for acting the way he did.
“I was a fool for doing this and I should have known better,” Marks said. “If I had to do it all over again, I’d never do it.”