City man accepts plea deal for burglary that erases rape charges

A city man is set to be sentenced Aug. 12 for burglarizing an auto parts store as part of a plea deal that also closes charges that he raped an unconscious woman in front of a child.

Christopher C. Gillette, 37, pled guilty to felony third-degree burglary and misdemeanor criminal contempt on June 17th in Cortland County Court. Gillette admitted to violating an order of protection on May 24, 2020 at the Econo Lodge at 10 Church St., as part of the plea deal that spans three separate criminal cases.

Gillette is set to be sentenced to two to four years in prison under the plea deal. However, he is allowed to petition Judge Julie Campbell to sentence him to Willard Drug Treatment Center, a 97-day intensive drug treatment program held in a specialized state prison. The maximum sentence Gillette could have received for burglary was three-and-a-half to seven years in prison, according to court documents.

Under the plea agreement, Gillette did not admit to any of the charges levied against him in the rape case and will not be required to register as a sex offender nor undergo sex offender treatment — regulations levied against convicted sex offenders.

In November 2019, a Cortland County Grand Jury indicted Gillette on charges of first-degree rape of a person who is physically helpless and first-degree sexual abuse, felonies. Additionally, Gillette was charged with forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child, misdemeanors.

According to court records, a child witnessed Gillette rape an unconscious woman in a bedroom the child was sharing the woman in April 2015. The child came forward to an adult caregiver on June 20, 2019 after the caregiver used a news article regarding Christopher M. Perry, a Cortland man convicted of federal child sex abuse charges, as a moment to teach the child about inappropriate touching, according to court documents.

The Cortland Police Department contacted the described woman and she confirmed in an Aug. 2, 2019 interview with a detective that she had taken prescribed medications when she went to bed in the same room as the child that April 2015 night. When the woman woke up the next morning, she found semen on her body and bruised hand marks on her neck, according to the police report.

In the burglary case, Gillette admitted that on Dec. 9, 2020, he illegally entered NAPA Auto Parts-Kellogg Auto Supply at 161 Main St. and then broke a window and jumped through it as he tried to evade police.

Gillette was sentenced as a second felony offender. On July 26, 2012, Gillette was convicted in Cortland County Court of felony first-degree reckless endangerment and third-degree burglary. He was sentenced to three to six years in prison.

Hours after his release from prison on Oct. 10, 2020, city police arrested him on charges in the rape case, according to court documents. Almost two months to the day later, he was rearrested on the burglary charges and less than six months after that he was arrested a third for violating orders of protection at the Econo-Lodge, records show.

Campbell warned Gillette that if he were ever to be convicted of a third felony, he could be sentenced to life in prison as a persistent felony offender.

“This is the last one for me,” replied Gillette.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Simser Sr. listed Gillette’s criminal history in the plea agreement.

“This defendant has a criminal record consisting of four felonies and nine misdemeanors,” wrote Simser, adding Gillette twice had probation revoked. “The defendant is an intelligent and capable individual who nonetheless chooses to pursue a life of addiction and criminality rather than a law-abiding life wherein he might contribute to his family and community.”