Supporters Rally for Accused in Rape Case

Daniel Rodgers, in hat, with friends and supporters of Bryan Siranaula, who was indicted yesterday in State Supreme Court in the alleged rape of a woman in the Springs School parking lot on Feb. 4. Mr. Siranaula entered not guilty pleas to the charges. T.E. McMorrow

The grand jury indictment of Bryan Siranaula, a senior at East Hampton High School, on multiple felony charges of rape and sexual abuse was unsealed in the courtroom of New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kahn on Wednesday in Riverside. His attorney, Daniel Rodgers, entered a not-guilty plea on the four felony charges, as well as on the four misdemeanors Mr. Siranaula is facing, which include choking, acting in a manner injurious to a child, false impersonation through electronic media, and assault. 

About 25 friends and relatives of Mr. Siranaula were seated in the courtroom, to show their support for the defendant. Many were fellow East Hampton High School students.

Before the arraignment began, Mr. Rodgers made a request to have probation officers interview Mr. Siranaula, to determine if he was eligible for a monitored release. Mr. Rodgers’s goal was to get the bail reduced from the $205,000 set during Mr. Siranaula’s initial arraignment in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Feb. 5. The probation officer was heard in the courtroom, after conducting the interview with Mr. Siranaula, telling Mr. Rodgers, “You’re good to go.” 

The assistant district attorney, Raphael Pearl, who presented the people’s side of the argument, asked that bail be set at $100,000. 

In her statement to police, the victim, whose name is protected by the court because of the nature of the crimes alleged, told police she had driven to the school to play soccer with a 7-year-old relative. As she drove, she received a text message from a strange number. When she responded, asking who it was that was texting her, the response was the name of a good friend. 

She played soccer with the child, but it started raining, and they returned to the car. At that point, she said, she received another text from the number she now believed to be a friend’s, asking her to wait in the parking lot behind the school. But, instead of her friend’s car pulling up, it was a Nissan sedan belonging to Mr. Siranaula. The two had a prior relationship but were no longer in contact, she told police.

According to Mr. Pearl, Mr. Siranaula’s texts had convinced the alleged victim to wait for him. He then threatened her and pulled her from the car. He then forced her into the Nissan and raped her, Mr. Pearl said. After the rape, the child who accompanied the alleged victim was, he said, seen watching from her vehicle, sobbing. According to the prosecution, Mr. Siranaula allowed her to go back to the car to comfort the child. The woman told police she gave the child a video to watch. Mr. Pearl said that Mr. Siranaula then forced the woman back to his vehicle, and raped her again. 

Mr. Siranaula was charged twice with rape, once with sexual assault, and 

once with aggravated sexual assault, 

all felonies.

Mr. Pearl said there was videotape of the parking lot where the events unfolded — although it was not clear to listeners in the courtroom if the actions of the alleged victim and the accused, in and around their cars, were visible on that tape — and that DNA evidence of the rape was found by police both in the Nissan and on the woman’s body by a nurse who examined her shortly after the alleged attack. Mr. Pearl also said that Mr. Siranaula signed a confession, and that he had composed a letter of apology to the woman.

Mr. Rodgers countered that Mr. Siranaula “is a sworn traffic control officer in East Hampton Village,” and has strong ties to the community. He challenged the people’s portrayal of the events, saying the “victim had numerous opportunities to leave, to drive off, and didn’t.”

Justice Kahn set bail at $50,000, on the condition that the defendant participate in a supervised release, which includes the wearing of a global-positioning bracelet and following strict rules as to where he can and cannot go. She warned that a violation of these terms would result in his being remanded, without the possibility of bail.

The group of supporters stood behind Mr. Rodgers outside the courthouse. He told reporters that he believed his client would be vindicated. He also said that the family would be posting bail, as soon as East Hampton dropped its charges in recognition of the indictment. 

One of those supporters was Erica Siranaula, the defendant’s sister. She had been in the East Hampton courtroom for his initial arraignment. “I’ve been there since the beginning,” she said, “and I will be there in the end.”

About 25 friends and relatives of Mr. Siranaula were at the courthouse, to show their support for the defendant. Many were fellow East Hampton High School students.T.E. McMorrow