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Grand jury won't hear suspect in 'Y' rape

A former counselor for a YMCA of Greater Buffalo youth camp won't testify before an Erie County grand jury weighing charges against him in the rape of a now-12-year-old Buffalo girl who gave birth last summer, his attorney said Tuesday.

"He will not testify before the grand jury," attorney Michael J. O'Rourke said of Martel A. Jones, 18, of Swan Street, who faces a possible indictment in the case as early as Thursday.

He spoke after Buffalo City Judge David M. Manz granted prosecutors a two-week adjournment on an evidence hearing in the case and refused to dismiss the felony third-degree rape charge already lodged against Jones in the July 16 incident.

Peter J. Marche, chief prosecutor in the investigation, told Manz the case was presented to the grand jury Monday and its report is due out Thursday."

The girl appeared before the grand jury Monday.

O'Rourke said he was disappointed Manz would not dismiss the rape charge, which carries a maximum prison term of four years because Jones was 17 at the time of the incident, which occurred in the sauna room of what is now known as the Ellicott-Masten YMCA on William Street.

The defense attorney said Jones already has submitted to DNA testing and denies having sex with the girl, who gave birth to a healthy baby boy earlier this year. She insists the child was fathered by Jones.

John V. Elmore, one of the girl's chief attorneys in both the criminal investigation and a pending civil suit, said the girl, who is caring for her baby at her mother's home, "displayed amazing courage" in telling the grand jury what happened last July. "She has a lot of intestinal fortitude," he said.

Despite claims Tuesday by prosecutor Marche and Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III that the grand jury is to report its findings Thursday, Manz, as is customary in local criminal investigations, adjourned the evidence hearing to 2 p.m. July 14.

Court officials said the delay will allow prosecutors to present evidence if some technicality prevents the grand jury's report from being made public Thursday.

Elmore said his client and her infant son have submitted to DNA testing.

State Supreme Court Justice Timothy J. Walker has scheduled an Oct. 12, 2012, start for jury selection in the civil suit the girl and her mother recently filed against the YMCA and the City of Buffalo.

Jones was reportedly working for the city's summer youth program at the "Y" youth camp at the time of the incident.

On June 15, Walker agreed to review the girl's Facebook files if attorneys for the YMCA can get Facebook to turn over the files to them. They are seeking the files in hopes of finding information that would indicate she was not raped at the "Y" but at another location. Walker has agreed to review the Facebook files in chambers to determine if they are relevant for the pending civil case.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com