A Syracuse man who has admitted sexually molesting a young girl was charged today - along with his wife and his sister - with bribing the victim to get her to recant her allegations.
James G. Hunter Jr., 33, had been facing a possible life sentence if convicted of the Class A felony charge of predatory sexual abuse against a child. But he pleaded guilty earlier this year to a lesser charge of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and was sentenced to 10 years' probation
Hunter, his 31-year-old wife, Jennifer L. Hunter of Salina; and his 40-year-old sister, Lorna M. Bailey of Syracuse, all were arraigned today before City Judge Langston McKinney on a felony charge of bribing a witness and misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree tampering with a witness, fifth-degree conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child.
They are accused of offering money to the 12-year-old victim in the sex assault case last June and July to get her to change her testimony.
Bailey and Jennifer Hunter gave authorities written statements confessing to the wrongdoing.
"I knew she was scared and did not want Jim to go to jail so that is why I helped," Bailey wrote, noting she had talked to her brother about that and he thought the letter would help his case. "I honestly didn't think the letters would help Jim get a reduced sentence," Bailey added.
Jennifer Hunter wrote that she participated in the plot because the prosecution had been talking about prison sentences of eight or 15 years for her husband.
Jennifer Hunter said they offered the girl $500 and had her recopy letters they wrote for her. She admitted Bailey wrote one letter and she wrote two more claiming the original allegations were lies and begging the judge not to send James Hunter to prison. She also admitted only paying the girl $100 of the promised $500.
McKinney set bail for James Hunter at $1,000 cash or $5,000 bond. The judge ordered the two women released to the probation department's Pre-Trial Release Program.