Judge allows Guilderland resident's extradition from U.S. to Ireland

ALBANY — A federal judge cleared the way Tuesday for Guilderland resident Raymond Donlon to be extradited to his native Ireland, where he faces 394 charges related to the alleged “protracted sexual abuse” of two boys.

Donlon, 38, had been living in Guilderland since last April, according to court documents. He was working as a sales-promotion manager with the travel agency Celtic Tours. His accusers — two boys whose ages ranged from 12 to 19 — came forward beginning in 2012, according to the complaint against Donlon; the investigation into the first accuser’s charges led to the other boy.  

The charges include 177 counts of rape, 210 counts of sexual assault, and one count each of false imprisonment, harassment, and damage to property.

The two boys met Donlon through his work as a former coach, sports photographer, and office administrator at a sporting ground in Longford, Ireland, according to the complaint.

In his order on Tuesday, Judge Daniel J. Stewart of the Northern District of New York noted that this proceeding “is not criminal in nature, but is essentially administrative.” His role, the judge wrote, is to determine that a valid treaty exists, that the crime charged is covered by the treaty, that the evidence supplied by the requesting government is sufficient, and that the person detained is the person sought.

The judge wrote that he found “probable cause to believe that the crimes charged occurred and that the accused is responsible.” He noted that the charges arise from a claim that Donlon had long-standing sexually abusive relationships with two young boys he had “befriended, groomed, and exploited.” The abusive relationships had spanned years between the boys’ ages of 12 and 19, the judge wrote, adding, “Mr. Donlon himself left Ireland before he had an opportunity to be questioned by the police in the presence of his solicitor.”

Judge Stewart noted that Donlon’s attorney did not dispute at the hearing the issue of probable cause regarding rape, sexual assault, or wrongful imprisonment, but did question whether there was sufficient evidence for charges of harassment and destruction of property.

The judge outlined some of the evidence for these charges, including the complaint by one of the two boys, referred to in court documents as “TK,” alleging harassment that “included continuous communication via email, text message and phone call, which contained insults toward [‘TK’] and his family and also threats against him.”

In another piece of evidence, the judge wrote, TK described an incident in 2009 at the sports ground in Longford, in which Donlon grabbed him by the hood, spat in his face, and punched him in the face and stomach.

With regard to destruction of property, the judge wrote, a factual summary provided to the court states that, on a different day in Longford, Donlon allegedly confiscated a cell phone from TK and, when TK refused to provide the access code, Donlon stomped on the phone. The complaint details further that Donlon was upset at TK for playing a soccer match without telling him, the judge wrote, and trapped him in a hallway, wrestled him to the ground, took his phone, and smashed it against the wall and then stood on it. In this same incident, Donlon allegedly punched TK in the head and testicles, the judge wrote.

The judge wrote, in turning down the request for bail, “I find that Mr. Donlon poses both a risk of flight as well as a significant danger to the community.” Donlon is aware of the significance of the “significant number of felony charges” against him and, “through his actions while in custody, has made clear his desire not to face the potential consequences,” Stewart wrote.

Also, the assertion that Donlon has not committed any similar conduct while in the United States is not sufficient to assure the court of the community’s safety if he were to be released, Stewart wrote. “The Court finds the type of hands-on sexual abuse alleged in the charges to be the most dangerous to the community, and there are no conditions that the Court can impose that will ameliorate that severe risk.”

Donlon’s attorney, Federal Public Defender Michael McGeown-Walker, had said that crowded conditions at a jail would exacerbate Donlon’s various health issues, but the judge wrote that his health issues are “not an exceptional circumstance,” and that jails are equipped to handle them and are even constitutionally obliged to do so.

The order does not address a request by Donlon’s attorney to house him, until his surrender to Irish authorities, in a facility close to his sister, who lives in New York City.

Hearing

McGeown-Walker had said in court on Feb. 1 that the crowded confines of jail could prove life-threatening for Donlon — mainly because of his weakened immune system that resulted, the attorney said, from a congenital heart defect.

Donlon also suffers from several other conditions including diabetes and “some fairly significant skin issues,” McGeown-Walker said, arguing that all of these health problems pose “special circumstances.”

The purpose of the hearing was to determine if Donlon’s case meets the legal criteria for “extraditability.” That is the first step in the process, Assistant United States Attorney Emmet J. O’Hanlon explained in court Friday. If Judge Stewart rules that Donlon is extraditable, the United States Secretary of State would then make the decision about whether to extradite him.

Donlon has been living in the United States for “two or three years” and has “received not so much as a traffic ticket,” McGeown-Walker had said at the extradition hearing.

Police have not received any reports about Donlon having abused anyone during his time in Guilderland, Assistant United States Attorney Michael Barnett told The Enterprise earlier. Barnett added that anyone with information about Donlon is asked to call the Homeland Security Investigations Albany Office.

Donlon was not trying to hide in the United States, McGeown-Walker said in court, but was living “openly and honestly” under his own name. He had never fled Ireland but had offered, along with his attorney, to meet with police there when the charges were made; his offer to meet with them was “declined,” McGeown-Walker said, and Donlon then fulfilled a lifelong dream to live in the United States.

This differs from the account in the complaint, which says that after search warrants were executed on Donlon’s residences in Ireland, Donlon’s attorney offered to meet with investigators, but Donlon fled.

The federal public defender had asked the judge to either release Donlon back to his own apartment in Guilderland’s Carpenter Village or to the care of his sister, Catherine Donlon, in New York City.

Catherine Donlon spoke at the hearing, saying she has always been very close with her “baby brother,” whom she said is 17 years younger than she is. She believes “with every fiber of her being” that Donlon would never harm anyone, she told the judge, although the purpose of the hearing was not to determine whether Donlon is guilty, but only whether a reasonable person could entertain the idea that he is guilty.

Donlon has a job as a sales-promotion manager with the travel agency Celtic Tours and could work at either the Albany location as he has been or in New York City, the judge heard. McGeown-Walker identified a woman seated next to Donlon’s sister in the gallery as his boss at Celtic Tours and she said she also supports his release.

Those present at court on Friday heard that Donlon had a permanent-residency card to live in the United States — his permanent-residency card was one of the items seized by authorities when he was arrested on Jan. 16. McGeown-Walker said in court that Donlon had applied for naturalization.

McGeown-Walker had also called into question whether the items seized at the time of Donlon’s arrest had been seized lawfully. McGeown-Walker argued that Donlon could not have given consent, under the circumstances, for the search of his apartment that turned up electronic items including a cell phone, iPad, and laptop.

The federal defender outlined the circumstances of Donlon’s arrest, saying that numerous officers with guns drawn had pulled Donlon from his vehicle, brought him to the entryway of his apartment building, and told him they wanted to search his apartment.

McGeown-Walker had asked the judge, if he does deny bail, to hold Donlon in a facility closer to New York City, so that his sister can visit. Donlon has been held until now in Rensselaer County’s jail, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett told The Enterprise earlier.

O’Hanlon had told the judge that Donlon “has a significant incentive to flee,” especially since learning of the charges that would await him in Ireland, many of which carry maximum sentences of 10 years or more.

 

More Guilderland News