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Adultery charge against Suzanne Corona dropped

By WBTA News

As one reporter phrased it: "She wants to plead guilty, but doesn't want to admit to the crime."

Suzanne Corona did plea guilty to Public Lewdness in Batavia City Court today, and did have the charge of Adultery dropped. But it took an awful lot of work to get to that point.

Corona entered the Genesee County Courts facility early this afternoon, dressed in a pastel green suit and stiletto-heeled sandals. When Judge Michael Del Plato called her name just before 2 o'clock, she walked up to the stand beside her lawyer, Brian Degnan.

(Recorders are not allowed in City Court; quotes hereforth from inside the courtroom are written from recollection and extensive written notes.)

Judge Del Plato asked what the status of the case was. Degnan announced that he'd acquired everything he needed from the prosecution -- and that Suzanne Corona was prepared to enter a plea. Prosecutor Robert Zickl agreed, noting the prosecution's proposal for Corona to plea guilty to Public Lewdness and be sentenced "on a no-jail basis."

Judge Del Plato then asked Corona if she was indeed prepared to enter a plea. "Yes," she said, "and I am doing so with the understanding that the adultery charge will be dropped."

Then came the plea...sort of.

Del Plato asked: "Do you admit that on June 4th, 2010, at approximately 5:15 p.m. in Farrall Park, that you did expose your private or intimate parts in a public place?"

"No, I did not," Corona replied.

Judge Del Plato seemed dumbfounded at this point. Looking from Zickl to Degnan with a slight smile, he wondered aloud: "I thought we had a disposition?"

Zickl said, "Your Honor, Ms. Corona has said that her intimate parts were not exposed in the public view. The prosecution is willing for her to admit to 'having sexual contact with another person,' which could easily be viewed by another as sexual intercourse."

After Degnan whispered something in Corona's ear, Del Plato tried again.

"Do you admit...that you did commit a lewd act with another person?"

"Yes," Corona replied. Del Plato continued, "And do you admit...that you did have sexual contact with another person?"

Corona replied, "No, Your Honor. I was engaged in an inappropriate act."

At this point, all four began talking to and talking over one another. At one point, Corona was heard to say, "I just want to say that I did not expose..."

But Del Plato had heard enough. He ordered Degnan and Corona out of the courtroom to speak with each other.

Three to four minutes later, they returned and sat together in the gallery as Del Plato heard several more cases. Returning to the stand, Degnan attempted to call Corona up beside him. Del Plato wasn't having it.

"No -- no. Mr. Degnan and Mr. Zickl, I want to speak with you first."

After a quick conference, proceedings resumed. Del Plato again asked Corona if she admitted to committing a lewd act with another person in Farrall Park.

"Yes," she replied.

"Great," Del Plato muttered, looking down.

Corona had apparently also asked Degnan to remind the courtroom that she'd remained clothed throughout the entire encounter at Farrall Park -- which he did.

Del Plato instructed Corona to return to City Court at 1 p.m. on Oct. 20 for sentencing, and with that -- save for the sentence -- Corona's legal matter was over. Outside the Genesee County Courthouse, Corona said she was happy to have the adultery charge dropped.

"I believe it's a private matter between husband and wife," she said. "And the government steps in your life in so many different areas...and everyone has a different type of marriage."

But Corona has not ruled out her prior intention: challenging the constitutionality of New York State's charge of Adultery.

"That's something we will discuss, and it's probably going to come up."

Degnan seems less enthusiastic.

"Sure, there's a challenge possible, but we were just concerned about having the adultery charge dismissed. We haven't even started preparing for that matter at this point, and we'll cross that bridge when the time comes."

When asked if she was happy to put it all behind her, it took Corona only one, sighed word to communicate it all: "Yes."

UPDATE: Just spoke to Prosecutor Robert Zickl as he walked past WBTA Studios. He confirmed that Justin Amend was offered a similar plea deal, and accepted it, contrary to what a City Court clerk told WBTA on Tuesday.

Photo: Suzanne Corona and Brian Degnan speak to reporters outside Genesee County Court.

Friedman: No decision made yet on whether to pursue adultery charge against Suzanne Corona

By Howard B. Owens

It appears that it's not a done deal that the Genesee County District Attorney's Office will pursue an adultery charge against Suzanne M. Corona, who was allegedly caught engaged in sexual conduct in Farrall Park on Friday.

The 41-year-old Corona and her husband of nearly 7 years spoke with reporters yesterday and Joseph Corona said that if he was the supposed victim of the crime, nobody in law enforcement ever consulted with him to see if he wanted adultery charges filed.

"I wish that the charges were dropped so that we could resolve this as a man and wife, more of a private matter," Joe Corona said.

He called District Attorney Lawrence Friedman yesterday morning and asked that the charges be dropped.

"(The wishes of the victim) does come into consideration and I told him that," Friedman said. "But what I also told him is that it's not the only consideration.

"Let's say for the sake of argument," Friedman added, "that he is the victim of that charge, we do take into consideration the victim's feelings, but as in any other case there are other things we look at."

While other people may argue that the case is bigger than just the people involved, he said such philosophical positions don't really factor into whether to prosecute a defendant.

Suzanne Corona has said she plans to challenge the constitutionality of New York's adultery law and she is actively seeking legal representation.

Friedman said he considers the constitutional issue somewhat irrelevant because Corona is charged with two Class B misdemeanors, the least serious crimes in New York. Even if one charge were dismissed or withdrawn, there's the public lewdness charge, which Friedman believes Corona has pretty much admitted to in her public statements.

Asked, however, that if there was a constitutional challenge, wouldn't it require his office to defend the state law? Friedman replied, "If we choose to do so."

"It's not like I would anticipate somebody receiving concurrent sentences if they were convicted," Friedman said.

The DA said no decision has been made on how to handle the case, and when the decision is made, it will be one of the assistant district attorneys in his office who makes the call. Friedman said he's not going to be directly involved in the case.

Friedman has prosecuted an adultery case in Genesee County before, he said. In that case, a witness testified under oath to a long-term, consensual relationship with a married woman, which prompted the woman's husband to ask the DA's office to pursue an adultery charge.

"How could we say no to that?" Friedman said. "Regardless of how anybody feels about the law, it is the law. We do feel a certain obligation to enforce it."

Batavia 'adultery' case now fodder for British tabloids

By Howard B. Owens

News of an alleged sex act in a Batavia public park and the rare adultery charge that followed has made it across the pond.

British tabloids have picked up the story. By this morning, the Daily Mail, the Sunday Mirror and the Sun all carried some version of the story. The story has also appeared in the UK's Independent.

In the U.S., such diverse news outlest as the New York Daily News, ABC, AOL and a Wall Street Journal blog have given the story play.

The Daily Mail also used pictures owned by The Batavian without permission or compensation.

The stories don't tell us anything we don't already know, but the comments on a couple of them can make for interesting reading.

The Batavian has also heard from New York-based entertainment shows looking for more information. And of course, the story has been popular with radio talk shows in Buffalo and Rochester, as well as receiving extensive coverage from the TV stations in those two cities.

Woman accused of adultery for alleged sex in park plans legal challenge

By Howard B. Owens

BATAVIA, NY -- Suzanne M. Corona, the 41-year-old Batavia mother accused of engaging in a public sex act in Farrall Park last Friday afternoon intends to challenge the constitutionality of the adultery charge leveled against her.

Asked after a brief court appearance at Genesee County Court today, Corona said she would "absolutely" challenge the legality of the charge once she retains a private attorney.

City Court Judge Robert Balbick gave her until June 22 to hire an attorney. He did not require her to enter a plea today to the adultery or public lewdness charges filed against her.

"I think the adultery charge is extremely unfair and uncalled for," Corona told assembled media before entering the courthouse. "My husband is standing beside me. He called the D.A. himself this morning and wants it dropped."

Joseph Corona said he loves and supports his wife of six-and-a-half years.

"I just want it on public record that I forgive her fully," Joe Corona said. "I wish that the charges were dropped so that we could resolve this as a man and wife, more of a private matter."

His wife called her behavior Friday "inappropriate" but denied doing anything that a child could see or be harmed by.

"If you were a passerby you would not see anything was going on," she said. "We were fully clothed. His pants were on. His shirt was on. My clothes were on."

At 5:15 p.m., Friday, Farrall Park reportedly had a number of parents with their children in the playground less than 30 feet from where the pavilion full of picnic tables sits. But Corona said she and her alleged paramour, 29-year-old Justin Amend, of Oakfield, were well away from any children. She said, at most, Amend's genitals were exposed through a pants' zipper while she sat on his lap.

"Yes, it was a sexual act," she said.

Amend was also charged with public lewdness. His case was continued to June 30. He also did not enter a plea today.

She apologized to the mothers, but said, "I've not heard from these mothers. I'd like to see something from the mothers that an offense occurred, because there was nothing, nothing that would have endangered a child, to hurt a child by any means."

Her husband complained that police never consulted him before filing the adultery charge.

"If they considered me the victim, they just left me out in the open," he said, adding that he felt "sad" about the whole situation.

"I'm hurt by all this," he said. "But I'm 41, but I've got 40 some more years to spend with my wife. I'm not going to throw it all away over one incident. This is something that is going to pass and life is going to go on. It's going to be forgotten. I'm going to love her and spend the rest of my life with her."

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