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.