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CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON SEX CRIMES

William Fitzpatrick is still haunted by the two dungeons in the suburban Syracuse community of DeWitt, where five females were held, tortured and raped.

Fitzpatrick, Onondaga County's district attorney, still gets chills down his spine when he recalls interviews with sexual predator John Jamelske, who was 68 when he pleaded guilty in June 2003 to kidnapping the five, who were held as sex slaves over various periods between 1988 and 2003.

Last July, Jamelske -- a millionaire who lived in an affluent neighborhood -- was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.

The victims, ranging in age from 13 to 52, were required to have sex whenever he demanded, at least daily. When they resisted, Jamelske would often burn them with his cigar.

Fitzpatrick said one of the dungeons was an abandoned well -- not even big enough to stand upright -- where he would chain his victim to a pole.

The other was a backyard bunker -- 3 feet underground and encased in concrete, virtually soundproof and pitch-black, reeking of urine and mold.

Fitzpatrick is still appalled.

"I just wanted to beat the ever-loving snot out of him," Fitzpatrick told about 130 people -- many of them social workers and law enforcement officers from across Western New York meeting last week in the Center for Tomorrow, on the University at Buffalo's North Campus. "He was such an evil, malevolent human being."

Fitzpatrick was the keynote speaker for a two-day conference by the Advocate Program of Crisis Services. The theme: Responding to Sexual Assault From Assault to Conviction (April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month).

From behind a podium, the district attorney pointed to graphic crime-scene photos projected on a screen. He took the audience inside the deranged mind of the serial rapist.

Jamelske was a "narcissist" and "maniac" -- a hoarder with junk strewn throughout his home and thousands of beer bottles stacked up in his basement.

"This story is frankly unbelievable, and I pray that your community will never have to deal with someone like this," Fitzpatrick told the crowd. "He does not fit into the legal definition of insane, but he was completely off the wall."

Jamelske used "psychological terror," telling his victims he was involved in a slavery ring and threatening to sell them on the Internet or kill their families, Fitzpatrick said.

"He was very clever in selecting his victims," said Fitzpatrick, adding that Jamelske often targeted runaways or those who dabbled in prostitution. ". . . Some of these women were never reported missing."

"He controlled every aspect of their environment. If they were bad, they would get no electricity. If they were good, they might get a TV set and get to watch some local TV. . . . In his mind, he was treating them well. That's how out of touch with reality he was."

Conference organizer Jessica C. Pirro, coordinator of Crisis Services' Advocate Program for Survivors of Family Violence, Rape, Sexual Assault and Elder Abuse, said the case serves as a reminder that no community is immune to heinous sexual crimes.

"You definitely wouldn't think that this happens in our community, but these types of cases can happen," Pirro said. "We need to make sure that the system is ready for victims to come forward and put the message out that Erie County is responding to rape and sexual assault cases."

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com

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