Man sentenced to 20 years on rape conviction

Joseph A. Stefanovich, 43, of Liverpool, on Friday was sentenced to 20 years in state prison, along with 5 years post-release supervision, based upon his conviction for rape in the first degree.

District Attorney Gregory Oakes said Stefanovich was convicted of rape 1st Nov. 22, 2013, after a week long jury trial in which Stefanovich testified on his own behalf. The conviction is based upon an allegation that Stefanovich forcibly raped a woman in Phoenix July 30, 2005.

It was alleged that Stefanovich grabbed the victim from behind, put her in a chokehold, and dragged her into a wooded area, where the offense was committed.

Oakes said Stefanovich was linked to the case due to a DNA hit that occurred in 2006.  Stefanovich’s DNA was on profile due to a prior sexual offense conviction.  In fact, he had already pleaded guilty to sexual abuse 1st and was pending sentence when this offense took place, Oakes said.

He was sentenced in Onondaga County Court Aug. 1, 2005 to 10 years probation and thereafter was required to register as a sex offender and provide a DNA sample.

At trial, Stefanovich claimed that his DNA appeared in the rape kit because he had a consensual encounter with the victim on the day of the offense, Oakes said.  He told the jury that another person must have raped her later that same day.

The victim testified that she did not know Stefanovich and had never voluntarily engaged in intercourse with him.  The victim disclosed the rape to law enforcement immediately afterward, and police promptly took her to the hospital for treatment.  At trial, the treating ER physician testified about the injuries he observed on the victim that night, which he believed were consistent with a forcible assault.

The Village of Phoenix Police Department initially investigated the case, but the investigation was transferred to the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department in March of 2010.  A sheriff’s investigator ultimately located Stefanovich in December of 2012, at which time Stefanovich denied knowing the victim or ever engaging in sexual acts with her.

“I want to commend the victim for having the strength to come forward and the courage to testify at trial.  Our community is now safe from this predator because of her bravery and fortitude.  It was an honor to stand up and fight for her in court,”  Oakes said. “While I thank all of the officers involved in this case, I want to give particular recognition to Officer Donald Duzak (retired) and Investigator Carmen Rojek for their outstanding work in bringing this monster to justice.”

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