After rape charge, Cobb pleads guilty to unlawful imprisonment

Jonathan Cobb

GUILDERLAND — Jonathan Cobb, who was charged in February with rape in his Guilderland home, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree unlawful imprisonment.

Under his plea agreement, Cobb is expected, on Oct. 18, to be sentenced to spend weekends in jail for a year and to be on probation for five years with sex-offender conditions, although he will not be registered as a sex offender, according to Heather Orth, chief of staff of the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

Cobb, 51, pleaded guilty in Albany County Court before Judge Thomas Breslin on Aug. 16.

Cobb is the owner of a tech company in Colonie.

He was originally charged by the Guilderland Police with rape in February for an incident at his home at 432 Danna Joelle Dr. at the end of January, involving an 18-year-old woman whom police said had been intoxicated and unable to give consent.

The charge of first-degree unlawful imprisonment carries a maximum charge of one-and-one-third to four years in state prison, said Orth. Cobb’s weekends in jail will be spent at Albany County’s jail, rather than a state prison, she said.

The Guilderland Police first ticketed Cobb on Jan. 28 for unlawfully dealing with a minor, for serving alcohol to a 16-year-old guest who visited the home that weekend for a gathering his daughter held.

Later, after another visitor to the home, who was 18, went to the hospital and said she had been raped, police investigated further and charged Cobb on Feb. 2 with third-degree rape and third-degree criminal sex act, both felonies.

Deputy Chief of the Guilderland Police Curtis Cox told The Enterprise at the time of the arrest that the rape charge was based on the victim’s  inability to consent because of intoxication. The victim was not necessarily unconscious, but was intoxicated and “unable to consent,” Cox said.

New York Penal Law 135.10 defines first-degree unlawful imprisonment as restraining “another person under circumstances which expose the latter to a risk of serious physical injury.”

A person is confined “without consent,” the law says, when “physical force, intimidation or deception” is used or by “any means whatever, including acquiescence of the victim, if he is a child less than sixteen years old or an incompetent person and the parent, guardian or other person or institution having lawful control or custody of him has not acquiesced in the movement or confinement.”

Cobb owns a company called Waypoint Technology Group that, according to its website, provides “professional positioning solutions based on GPS/GNSS, optica/robotic, and laser measurement technologies.” Customers include government agencies, engineering firms, and scientific organizations. Its office address is listed as 17 Computer Dr. East, Albany.

Cobb’s attorney at the time of his arrest, Philip C. Miller of Albany, told The Enterprise in February, when Cobb was charged, that this was his first arrest, other than being charged in 2000 with driving while ability impaired.

Michael McDermott of O’Connell and Aronowitz is now serving as Cobb’s attorney, according to Orth. McDermott said on Friday that he couldn’t discuss the case because it is pending.

Asked to define probation with sex-offender conditions, Orth wrote in an email: “The probation department has specific conditions for people convicted of sexual offenses that they apply to terms of probation for people whose convictions also involve sexual offenses, even if the plea is not registerable, such as in this case.

“It is a uniform number of terms that the court can modify at its discretion (which it can do for any conviction). Those terms can include requirements to participate in sex offender treatment, submit to polygraph exams, register pursuant to corrections law, do not possess pornography, provide email/social media accounts to probation.  The specific conditions for this case will not be known until sentencing and will be determined by the court.”

Orth said the district attorney’s office does not track how often rape charges are pleaded down.

There are many reasons that prosecutors offer, and judges and defendants accept, plea bargains, she said. The “most heavily considered” include, she said, the strengths and weaknesses of the case, information uncovered during the investigation, the available evidence, and the desires of the victim.

A plea deal can prevent the victim from having to testify and be cross-examined in court, Orth said; they save time and resources of the court and court staff and improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system.

In this case, Orth said, all of those factors were considered and this disposition, requiring Cobb to be monitored by probation for the next five years and spend weekends in jail, was “the most favorable to all parties involved.”

Orth said that Cobb is out of jail while awaiting sentencing.

Cox said at the time of Cobb’s arrest that there was no evidence to suggest that there were any other victims. This week, Guilderland Police Chief Carol Lawlor said that, to the best of her knowledge, the police had never found any evidence of any other victims.

A voicemail message for Jonathan Cobb asking for comment was not returned.

 

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