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Niagara Falls man charged with kidnapping, rape has history of mental illness

The Niagara Falls man charged Tuesday with dragging a neighbor from her home at gunpoint, chaining her in his home's basement and then raping her has a history of mental illness, his defense lawyer said.

Michael Ciskiewic, 25,  is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who had been prescribed medication for the mental illness, said lawyer Dominic H. Saraceno.

After Ciskiewic's arraignment in Niagara Falls City Court, Ciskiewic's mother told Saraceno that her son had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic "in his teens or younger," Saraceno told reporters.

In court, Ciskiewic said nothing except to answer "yes" to three routine questions posed by visiting North Tonawanda City Judge Shawn P. Nickerson, who presided at the hearing after the recusal of a Niagara Falls judge.

Saraceno entered a not guilty plea on Ciskiewic's behalf to kidnapping, rape, burglary, assault and menacing charges.

Saraceno would not say whether Ciskiewic had been taking his medications before his arrest Monday, citing federal health privacy laws.

"In my experience, many schizophrenics, especially paranoid schizophrenics, don't like to take their medications," Saraceno told reporters.

Court documents indicate the woman suffered three broken bones in her hand, a broken cheek and orbital bone, a broken nose, a cracked tooth and facial lacerations.

Ciskiewic was charged with entering the woman's home with a loaded shotgun and threatening to kill her during the struggle.

"He attacked her. There was a pretty big fight," said Niagara Falls Police Capt. Kelly Rizzo, chief of detectives, during a Monday night news conference. "She's pretty tough. She fought back. She made it a point to let us know how much she fought back and for what distance of the incident. The broken glass from her door, she wanted to make sure that I knew that was from his head."

The woman's relatives could not reach her Sunday, so they went to her home and found a broken window, Rizzo said.

"One of them had a key. They entered and found her purse, her keys, her wallet and her phone," Rizzo said. "I think we all can agree, we don't really go out of our house without any of those things."

The relatives went to the police station to report the woman missing. The police, using a bloodhound, traced her to Ciskiewic's house on Monroe Avenue, where, according to court papers, he at first chained her to an unidentified object in the basement.

Later, he took the woman upstairs to a bedroom, where she was chained to the bed and raped, according to court documents.

She was held for more than 12 hours before police found her Sunday afternoon. A U.S. Marshals task force on Monday found Ciskiewic hiding in an industrial area just off of 24th Street and Allen Avenue, not far from his Monroe Avenue home a few blocks away Monday, according to WIVB-TV.

The woman did not know Ciskiewic personally, but she knew that he did yardwork in the neighborhood, so that's why she let him in when he knocked on the door early Sunday morning, according to WIVB, citing a police account. After dragging her to his house, Ciskiewic locked chains around her ankles, taped her wrists and then tried to gag her with a sock and duct tape, the station reported.

Saraceno, who was hired Monday night by Ciskiewic's family, said he and his client had decided to waive a preliminary hearing in City Court, so the case was held for the action of a Niagara County grand jury.

Because the kidnapping charge is a Class A felony, Nickerson lacked the authority to set bail. Ciskiewic will remain jailed unless Saraceno files a bail motion in Niagara County Court.

"Usually it takes a couple of weeks for a judge to be assigned in County Court," Saraceno said.

Court records indicate Ciskiewic pleaded guilty in Erie County in 2015 to fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property for having a stolen credit card. He was placed on probation for five years.

In 2012, a burglary charge against Ciskiewic was reduced to petit larceny and he was given a conditional discharge in Niagara Falls City Court.

In 2010, he and another teenager were charged with burglarizing an auto repair shop in the Town of Niagara, according to articles published at the time in The Buffalo News. The outcome of that case could not be determined Tuesday.

In 2009, he pleaded guilty to a felony count of attempted third-degree burglary for stealing a minibike in the Town of Niagara, but was granted youthful offender status and sentenced to probation.

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