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Man accused of rape says sex was consensual

Three other women claim up to two years in sex slavery

From Phil Hirschkorn
CNN

house
Onondaga Sheriff's Deputy Grayg Dykes keeps watch at the residence of John T. Jamelske in DeWitt, New York.

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SYRACUSE, New York (CNN) -- A 67-year-old man accused of abducting and sexually abusing women for months at a time has told police that his relationship with his latest alleged victim was consensual and that he did not know she was a minor, according to a deposition obtained by CNN.

John T. Jamelske is charged with kidnapping, rape, sodomy, and sexual abuse of a 16-year-old he allegedly locked in a basement bunker of his upstate New York home for six months.

A town judge in the Syracuse suburb of DeWitt has entered a "not guilty" plea on Jamelske's behalf, and the case is now pending before a county court.

In the days since the case was made public, at least three other women have come forward claiming they, too, were held as sexual slaves by Jamelske -- some for a year or more.

Jamelske was arrested April 8 when he got out of his car with the teen at a Dodge dealership. At the dealership, the teenager ran to a police vehicle, police said. The girl's name is being withheld because of the nature of the charges.

Secret call to sister

The teen secretly called her sister from a bottle recycling center the pair had visited earlier. The sister had someone at the center take down the car's license plate number, then she notified police that her sister was missing.

In a statement to a police officer after his arrest, Jamelske said of his relationship with the teen: "We just have fun together."

In a series of "spontaneous utterances" to the officer driving him to the police station, Jamelske said the woman "moved into his house" in DeWitt and "they lived together, just the two of them and his dog," according to a police deposition obtained by CNN.

Officer B.M. Damon told prosecutors that Jamelske spoke to him "freely and unsolicited," telling him how much he liked the young woman 50 years his junior.

"We have a lot in common. The only thing that she likes that I don't is blue cheese," Jamelske said, according to the affidavit.

Jamelske described routine outings with the young woman -- walking his dog, karaoke signing and dancing.

"We get on the dance floor and everybody's like, 'Wow, look at them, they're having fun.' Then everybody starts giving me high-fives," Jamelske said, according to the police affidavit.

In his statement, Jamelske said he thought the 16-year-old was 18, and that he was planning a 19th birthday party for her next month. The legal age of sexual consent in New York state is 17.

"Is this a problem that I'm so much older than her?" Jamelske asked Damon. "I'd just like to get this straightened out so I can go home. I'd like to be with her tonight, if possible."

Jamelske also told the officer he planned to take the woman to his 50th high school reunion.

He said, however, that he had no intention of marrying her because he did not expect their relationship to last more than a few years.

"I know that one day [she] will want to be with someone her own age, and that's all right. I'm just gonna have as much fun for now as I can," Jamelske said, according to the officer's affidavit.

Defense disputes kidnapping charge

Defense attorney Michael Forsyth challenged the notion that Jamelske, a self-described handyman and former grocery store manager, detained the 16-year-old.

"If this case went to trial, I think that the characterization of this as a kidnapping could be challenged," he said.

For example, he said, a witness recently saw the couple in a pizzeria, and he said the teen willingly got into Jamelske's car when they first met last fall.

Police depict Jamelske as a sexual predator who preyed on at least three other women, keeping them captive behind a steel door in a concrete bunker riddled with graffiti.

The bunker was accessible from a seven-foot tunnel in the cellar of his three-bedroom ranch house. It had electric light and heat but no running water.

One small room had a foam mattress, police said. A second room had a five gallon bucket that served as a toilet, and a tub hooked up with a hose.

Police said Jamelske made his alleged victims keep diaries of their physical activities, ranging from sex to brushing their teeth.

One woman who came forward said that beginning in 1988, Jamelske kept her captive for two years. Another said she was held one year.

Sheriff: There could be more victims

"We're not convinced that all the victims have been found," Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh said in a telephone interview. "We're still reaching out for additional victims to see if there are any out there."

One of the other victims went to police with her story two years ago but could not identify her captor's location, Walsh said. She has since identified Jamelske from a lineup photo, he said.

Prosecutors could charge Jamelske with kidnapping, a felony that carries a maximum 25-year sentence in all four cases. In two cases, the statute of limitations has run out on the alleged sex crimes.

Forsyth has asked County Court Judge Anthony F. Aloi to determine whether Jamelske is competent to stand trial, and Aloi is expected to order such an examination at a court proceeding next week.


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