The arrest of John Duyssen, a retired deputy and current town justice in Le Roy, is the product of intrusive government rules that mandate a reporting requirement on adults in various government agencies on even slight suspicion of abuse, according to his attorney Thomas Burns.
"As his attorney, it is my firm belief that as this case progresses it will become apparent that this arrest is the product of the ever-growing expansion of government in the personal matters of families and governmental intrusion upon the child-rearing rights and responsibilities of parents," Burns said in a statement issued this afternoon.
Duyssen was arrested by State Police on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and harassment, 2nd. He is accused of striking a child.
The statement from Burns suggests that Duyssen is accused of harming a member of his family but Burns is prohibited from discussing details of the case, so couldn't confirm who might be involved or how the case came to the attention of authorities.
Burns did note that under current regulations, a number of adults who might come into contact with a child, either at school or through social services or other agencies, have mandatory reporting requirements if they think a child has been harmed.
Burns said Duyssen told him that after news of his arrest broke this morning he has received an outpouring of support from people from throughout the community who know him.
"John has expressed to me his deep appreciation for the hundreds of contacts he has received from individuals who have reached out to him to express their support since articles concerning his arrest were published," Burns said. "I believe that such support speaks volumes about the character and integrity of John Duyssen and his impeccable reputation in the community as a retired law enforcement officer, community leader, businessman and father."
Duyssen retired from the Sheriff's Office in 2015 after 21 years of service to the county in which he won several awards, including the Carl Drexler Award, one of the highest honors in the state for a sheriff' deputy for exceptional career achievements and conscientious devotion to duty.
His boss for all those years on the force was Gary Maha, retired Sheriff and current member of the County Legislature. Maha said today he was shocked by news of Duyssen's arrest.
"I always thought he had impeccable character," Maha said. "He was a great deputy and did a lot for the community. There was never any indication that he would be involved in any kind of child abuse case at all."
Duyssen's community involvement over the years has largely focused on working with kids in agriculture, including the 4-H Club, particularly the Swine Club, and helping to organize and run tractor pulls at the Genesee County Fair.
He and his wife, Jessica, have adopted five children and fostered many others and there has never been another complaint against Duyssen in more than two decades of raising and supervising children. The Duyssens have raised their children on a family farm on Bater Road in Le Roy and for years grew strawberries that they sold at the farm.
Burns said his client will fight the charges.
"John intends to vigorously defend himself in the court on the baseless allegations filed against him and has the utmost confidence in the criminal justice system and the judicial process," Burns said.
Before the arrest went public, Duyssen notified his supervisors in the Unified Court System of his arrest and Burns said he intends to comply fully with any restrictions imposed by his supervising judges with respect to his judicial role while this matter is pending.
It will be up to the supervising judge to determine whether he can continue to hear criminal cases while his own case is pending.
Burns said Duyssen has no intention to resign.
As with most towns, there are two justices in the Le Roy Town Court. The other justice in Le Roy is Darryl Sehm.
Duyssen is scheduled to appear before Sehm on the pending charges at 1 p.m., Dec. 20.
Because of Duyssen's court position, the Genesee County District Attorney's Office is not prosecuting the case. Greg McCaffrey, the Livingston County district attorney, has been appointed special prosecutor.
Photo: File photo from 2015.