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Bethlehem man convicted of raping teenaged girls

The Albany County District Attorney's Office announced the conviction of 59-year-old Richard Clevenstine for sexually abusing two teenage girls.

Clevenstine, a Bethlehem resident, was found guilty by a jury on 11 separate counts, which included two counts of felony second-degree rape; three counts of felony third-degree rape; one count of felony third-degree criminal sexual act; three counts of misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child; one count of misdemeanor third-degree attempted criminal sexual act; and one count of misdemeanor third-degree sexual abuse, according to District Attorney David Soares' office.

Heather Orth, a spokeswoman for Soares' office, said, Clevenstine repeatedly abused the minors between January of 2006 through August of 2007. He was convicted in front of Albany County Judge Steven Herrick and originally arrested on Aug. 19, 2007, by State Police officers, according to Orth.

\Clevenstine engaged in sexual and oral intercourse with one child who was less than fifteen years old, according to a release. "He directed both girls to masturbate and instructed them how, and also engaged in sexually explicit dialogue by way of instant messages with both girls."

Orth said that Clevenstine "befriended the family of the two victims in order to gain their trust and then engaged in a grooming process with both girls in order to ensure their silence in committing the crimes."

"He was a family friend," Orth concluded of his relationship to the girls.

Police discovered Clevenstine engaging in "Inappropriate behavior" on the Internet with the two teenagers, according to Orth.

Clevenstine faces up to 26 years in prison during his sentencing in July and Assistant District Attorney's Christina Calabrese and Shannon Sarfoh handled the prosecution of the case.

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