Content of article leads judge to postpone Scerbo’s sentencing in abuse case
By By Jim O’Hara
Staff writer – Syracuse Post-Standard
Onondaga Nation School teacher Albert Scerbo will have to wait several weeks to see if he will be sent to jail after a jury convicted him in August of molesting one of his music students at the school.
An angry Judge William Walsh postponed sentencing Wednesday because of an article in The Post-Standard in which two of the jurors talked about their deliberations.
Defense lawyer Edward Z. Menkin asked for a delay in sentencing to look into whether to request a hearing to explore the comments attributed to the two jurors. Assistant District Attorney Gary Dawson objected. Walsh granted the delay and said it was because of the newspaper article.
Scerbo, 45, of Clay, was convicted Aug. 2 of felony first-degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child involving the now 7-year-old victim when she was in his first-grade music class.
The jury acquitted Scerbo of other charges accusing him of molesting nine other female students in his classes. Before and during trial, Walsh dismissed charges relating to seven other victims.
A large contingent from the Onondaga Nation was present in court Wednesday. Scerbo, accompanied to court by his wife, is facing up to seven years in state prison.
After pushing the case to the end of his morning calendar, Walsh called the lawyers into chambers for a 10-minute discussion. After the lawyers returned to the courtroom for about 10 minutes, Walsh summoned them back into chambers for about two minutes.
When the lawyers returned, Walsh took the bench and Menkin immediately asked for the delay. Walsh agreed to give Menkin until Oct. 31 to file any papers detailing the defense position about the situation with the jurors and the newspaper article.
After court, the judge refused comment on whether Menkin had raised specific issues about the jurors story in chambers. Menkin also refused comment and Dawson could not be reached.