Timothy Lucie, a 46 year old man charged with raping his 11 year old daughter just hours before she was found hanging in her bedroom, denied a neglect charge involving his other four children in Family Court. Onondaga County Family Court Judge Martha Walsh Hood ordered Lucie to have no contact with his four young sons and also granted a joint motion by Lucie's defense attorney and the children's law guardian to close all further proceedings to the public. Hood scheduled a fact finding hearing for the neglect charge. Authorities allege that Lucie raped his daughter, Valerie Charlene Lucie, who apparently hanged herself in the bedroom of her Syracuse home on September 30. Lucie is charged with rape and sodomy but has not yet been charged in connection with his daughter's death, which remains unclassified. In a statement to police, he said he raped the girl in the shower after threatening to cut her hair unless she did what she was told. He is free on $35,000 bond. An autopsy revealed that she had been sexually assaulted. Lucie has since recanted his confession and proclaimed his innocence.

Valerie's death stirred strong passions in Syracuse, particularly among parents. But the furor has not stopped at the suspect. It is also aimed at Lucie's wife, Andrea - the girl's mother - and the pastor from their local church. Outraged residents are casting scorn at the neighborhood church for supporting Lucie. The Rev. Donald Grant, from Syracuse's Lyncourt Wesleyan Church, where the family worshipped regularly, stood with Lucie and his wife at Lucie's arraignment. A few days later, Grant delivered a sermon about casting stones, urging parishioners and the community to reserve judgment. Since then, the church has been deluged with angry letters and irate phone calls. The pastor defended his actions.

The parents will go on trial on September 8.  Timothy Lucie was sentenced last week to 50 years in prison for first degree rape and sodomy.  The additional charges accuse him of abusing his daughter by sexually molesting her.  There are no allegations that Andrea Lucie was aware of what was happening but authorities contend she failed in her role as parent.  Both are accused of neglecting their four younger sons by demonstrating deficient judgment, deficient impulse control and a fundamental defect in understanding the duties and obligations of parenthood.

(Syracuse, New York)