Police suspect suicide in death of suspect in Saugerties statutory rape case

A 21-year-old Saugerties man who was charged with having sexual contact with a 15-year-old and 16-year-old died Monday in what is being investigated as a suicide.

Denzel Francis, who was charged with two counts each of third-degree rape and endangering the welfare of a child on Friday, was found dead from a gunshot wound in a Saugerties cemetery, The Associated Press reports.

Few details have emerged about the case against Francis. In a story that has attracted over 150 comments from readers so far, the Daily Freeman wrote today that a state police investigator said there was "no forcible component" to the alleged sexual contact between Francis and the girls. Some commenters on the Freeman site are weighing in on the case:

Some people who posted comments on the Freeman’s website on Tuesday claimed the alleged victims in the case had changed their stories and recanted their accusations against Francis, but Goffredo said that wasn’t true.

“Neither victim has changed their story,” he said when alerted about the comments.

State Police Investigator Carmen Goffredo told The Daily Freeman that the case against Francis remains an active criminal investigation, and said any other people with whom Francis may have had inappropriate sexual contact should contact the Family Violence Unit at (845) 334-5137.

Buono Funeral Service in Saugerties is handling funeral arrangements for Francis, and has posted an obituary online. The funeral is expected to be on Friday, June 8.