Thursday October 11, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A Pittsfield man has pleaded not guilty to rape charges, while his wife pleaded not guilty to a reckless endangerment charge for allegedly knowing about, but failing to report, the abuse.

Jason and Crystal Bushey, of South Street, appeared with their attorneys for a brief arraignment before Berkshire Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini and were released on their own recognizance Tuesday.

Mr. Bushey allegedly sexually assaulted a teen at the couple's house on different occasions between Feb. 1, 2011, and Oct. 31, 2011. He later allegedly intimidated the woman, who is now 18, according to police.

Mr. Bushey was once involved in the youth ministry of the Reigning Love Church, on East Street, but according to Pastor Phil Thurmond, who is also Mr. Bushey's father-in-law, Jason hasn't been involved in the ministry for at least four years, but continues to attend services.

Thurmond said the allegations have nothing to do with the church and that he had just found out about them.

"We'll have to let the courts get to the truth," he said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bushey, 31, represented by attorney Nathaniel K. Green, pleaded not guilty to seven charges: two counts of rape, four counts of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older, and single count of witness intimidation.

Mrs. Bushey, 31, pleaded not guilty to a single count of reckless endangerment of a child. She is being represented by attorney David Pixley.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Rachael Eramo did not ask for bail for either defendant, but did ask that they be ordered by the court to stay away from the alleged victim.

A pretrial hearing was scheduled for April 8, 2013.

The investigation into the alleged crimes was conducted by members of the Pittsfield Police Department.

Calls to both defense attorneys seeking comment were not immediately returned.