McGraw man sentenced to 5 years for child rape

Michael J. Waite of McGraw (Photo from the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office).

A McGraw man was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison for raping a 14-year-old girl — a girl he is also accused of previously raping when she was nine.

Michael Waite, 38, formerly of McGraw and Ithaca, was charged with four sexual assault felonies in January for attacking the girl and an additional felony for sending her nude photos, according to court documents and testimony. Waite pled guilty on July 2 to felony second-degree rape as part of a plea deal in exchange for five years in prison and five years of post-release supervision.

Judge Julie Campbell told Waite she accepted the plea bargain only because she wished to protect the child from the additional anguish of court proceedings.

“I did so only to spare your victim the further stress and embarrassment of having to go through a grand jury proceeding and a trial,” Campbell said. “That is the only reason I agreed to this plea agreement.”

Waite apologized at his sentencing.

“If I could turn back time I would and none of this would have happened,” he said. “I have a problem and I don’t like it. I don’t want to be like this.”

Campbell noted Waite denied committing the crimes to the probation officer preparing his pre-sentencing report and blamed the girl for his actions.

While Waite twice raped the 14-year-old, he denied ever having physical intercourse with her when speaking with the officer, Campbell noted.

Waite had “no remorse” and stated he “only admitted to this crime to get everything over with,” Campbell continued.

“It also appears he put responsibility on the victim for the photos he sent her,” she added. Waite claimed he only sent the nude photos and sexually explicit material to the girl as a way of proving to her mother how she was interacting with men, Campbell stated.

Waite preyed on a vulnerable child whom he had assaulted before when he committed his recent crimes, said Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth McGrath.

The girl first came forward when she was nine, but Waite passed a polygraph at the time and the child was too emotionally disturbed to continue with prosecution, McGrath said. She also stated Waite’s brother had sexually assaulted the girl before Waite had. That previous attack occurred when the girl was five, McGrath said.

Information regarding the oldest case was not immediately available.

In the most recent rape case, Waite sent the girl messages over Facebook and tried to keep his advances a secret from her mother, McGrath continued. When the attacks were reported to police, Waite tried to discredit the girl’s statements but her memories are “very clear,” she said.

“He consistently denies his responsibility and does what he can to undermine her credibility,” McGrath said. “He looks at her as a person who will not be believed.”

During his apology, Waite stated he was not honest with the probation officer due to his shame for his actions and promised to take sexual reform classes in prison.

“I’m really trying to hold up my responsibility,” he told Campbell. “It’s amazingly embarrassing to talk about.”

Waite said one of his deepest regrets is he cannot be around his children anymore.

In a letter to the court dated Tuesday, Waite apologized for not taking responsibility for his actions previously.

“I decided to plead guilty because I want to take responsibility for my actions,” he wrote “I am still coming to terms myself with what I did and the harm that I caused.”

A letter to the court on behalf of the girl asked Campbell to sentence Waite to 25 years in prison or the death penalty. Campbell noted those are not sentences allowed under state law, adding, “I can certainly sympathize and understand why someone would ask for that sentence in this circumstance.”

“At some point you’re going to have to come to terms with this,” Campbell told Waite. “It defies common sense and logic as to how this situation could have possibly have occurred.”