ONEONTA _ The man accused of raping a SUCO student last month told the 23-year-old woman he would bury her, according to her statement to police.

The woman also told police her assailant tried to snap her neck three times, according the statement on file in Otsego County Court.

"The evidence indicates that he actually attempted to kill his victim," Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl said Tuesday.

Justin Gillingham, 23, of Oneonta, was arrested the night of May 16 and charged with first-degree rape for allegedly attacking a 23-year-old student on the edge of the State University College at Oneonta campus at about 2:40 a.m. the same day.

He was indicted June 17 by an Otsego County grand jury on the rape charge, as well as charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault.

"It's all based on her statement," Muehl said, explaining the new charges.

Gillingham pleaded innocent the next day in Otsego County Court.

Muehl said the case is one week into a 45-day period in which to make pre-trial motions.

Gillingham is being held at the Otsego County jail on $250,000 bail.

"I'll make my comments in court," said Gillingham's court-appointed attorney, William "Jack" Gibbons, on Tuesday.

Gibbons said his client will likely remain in jail pending trial this year.

"With his income, I can't see that he will ever be able to make bail," Gibbons said.

Gillingham is a laborer who had been living with his brother in the city of Oneonta.

The Daily Star has a policy of not naming the victims or alleged victims of sexual assaults.

Police and prosecutors said the woman bravely fought off a vicious attack by Gillingham that left her with a bloodied and swollen face. But she left scratches on Gillingham that helped lead to his arrest, they said.

During an interview with police, Gillingham told investigators he was the victim of an attack by the woman and four men, according to his statement on file in court.

The woman met Gillingham and another man downtown earlier that night, and she drove them back to Gillingham's apartment on Cozy Avenue to smoke marijuana, according to her statement. The woman said she had not previously known the two men.

When the woman left Gillingham's apartment to return to her dormitory on the SUCO campus, he rode back with her, according to the statement.

The woman said in her statement that Gillingham told her he wanted to make sure she got home safely.

The alleged attack occurred on or near a popular shortcut between the campus and Clinton Street as the woman was showing Gillingham how to get back to his apartment on foot.

During the alleged rape and beating, the woman eventually escaped and fled to a dormitory, where residence hall staff called for help, officials said previously.

A relative of Gillingham who lives in Otego said he told her he didn't do it.

The relative, who said she didn't wish to be identified, said Gillingham lived on Cozy Avenue with his brother and had lived "all over" while growing up.

Gillingham, at one time, attended Oneonta City School District and graduated from the Oneonta Job Corps Academy.

"He's always been a good-hearted person," Gillingham's brother, Charles, 22, said Tuesday.

But Gillingham had gone through some rough patches in his life, his brother said.

Justin Gillingham had moved in with him at the Cozy Avenue apartment only a short time before he was arrested, his brother said, and was seemingly doing well as he tried to make something out of himself.

The allegations have been shocking and confusing, the brother said.

Lt. Dennis Nayor of the Oneonta Police Department said previously that violent rapes are a rare occurrence in Oneonta.

But he recommended that city residents take basic precautions, such as not walking home alone and staying in well-lit areas while out at night.

In most rapes, the victim or assailant know each other to some degree, said Opportunities For Otsego Executive Director Daniel Maskin, who a former crisis interventions support supervisor for OFO.

Maskin, whose agency deals with issues involving violence against women, said he couldn't comment on the specifics of this case _ in particular, the marijuana use and how the woman's encounter with men she had just met that night factors into it.

"Anybody should have the right to walk the streets," Maskin said. "Risky behavior is certainly prevalent (in Oneonta), but it still doesn't mean the person deserves or is asking to be assaulted or be raped."

Recommended for you