UPDATE: Additional information added below from the cross examination of the alleged victim Thursday afternoon.
BINGHAMTON, NY – (WIVT/WBGH) The alleged victim in the Colonial rape case wiped away tears while testifying in court today.
The victim, who had just turned 21 at the time, told the jury that defendants Ron Kweller and Jordan Rindgen forced her to have sex with them in November 2021. Kweller is charged with criminal sexual abuse and rape while Rindgen is charged with sexual abuse and criminal sex act. Both men were part-owners of the popular Colonial Restaurant and Bar in downtown Binghamton which has since closed. Both men have steadfastly maintained their innocence.
The first day of testimony began with opening statements by Assistant District Attorney Alyssa Congdon. Congdon told the jury that Kweller and Rindgen sexually assaulted the woman in the basement of the office of Kweller’s real estate business Rent Bing, located at 141 Washington Street. Congdon says the victim was scared and afraid because she was alone with her friend with the defendants and a third man, they were intoxicated and had had their cell phones taken away by Rindgen.
In her opening statement, Kweller’s attorney Elena Fast told the jury to critically evaluate the credibility of the alleged victim and to question her motives. Rindgen’s attorney Tom Jackson argued that the prosecution has allegations but no proof.
The first witness called was the alleged victim. She testified that she had been drinking with another woman that evening at another downtown bar, when her friend went missing. She says she later reached her through Facetime and learned that she was with Rindgen at Rent Bing. She says she went to rendezvous with her friend and when she got to the office, Kweller and a third man were also there.
Although the women were already heavily intoxicated, they agreed to accompany the 3 men, first across the street to another building, and then through an underground tunnel to The Colonial. The prosecution showed video from surveillance cameras at The Colonial that showed 5 people walking through the tunnel and later 4 walking back. There was also video of the bar that showed the two women at the bar, having another shot of liquor and kissing each other.
In the video, there are also images of Rindgen, Kweller and Kweller’s brother Leor Kweller. Charges against Leor Kweller accusing him of sexually assaulting the other woman were dropped by Judge Carol Cocchiola earlier this year.
In sometimes graphic and highly emotional testimony, the victim then recounted that after the group returned to Rent Bing, they went into a basement room where she felt trapped and afraid. She says her friend was extremely drunk and that the men formed a shoulder-to-shoulder wall blocking them for exiting the basement. The alleged victim says they were ordered to take their clothes off and because she was scared, she complied. She then described how she was sexually assaulted by both Ron Kweller and Rindgen and raped by Kweller.
She says afterward, Rindgen gave them their phones back and she texted friends to come and pick them up. She says she told her friends that she thought that she had been raped.
Jackson began cross examination by getting the alleged victim to admit that she had used a fake I-D to get into bars before she turned 21.
Then Fast began questioning her about text messages she had made in the following days.
Among them, one in which the alleged victim wrote “And it was consensual. I knew what was happening. But those guys should be f**king disgusted with themselves.”
Fast also brought out the fact that the alleged victim did not turn that and other damaging texts over to police investigating the allegations. There were also a number of questions related to the alleged victim’s rocky relationship with her boyfriend at the time, suggesting that she may have concocted the rape allegation as cover for cheating on him.
And Fast asked the alleged victim about her about her efforts to hire a civil attorney to represent her, suggesting that she was motivated by seeking a large legal settlement from Kweller.
The alleged victim also admitted to wanting to delete her social media platforms at the advice of colleagues who told her that things she had done or said in the past could be held against her. To that point, defense attorneys highlighted the text group name the alleged victim used with her friends because it included the term “hoes.” And Fast repeatedly referred to Rindgen as “Ring-ding,” the nickname the alleged victim and her friend had for him.
Victim advocates, who were not commenting specifically on this case, have told NewsChannel 34 in the past that it is a common defense tactic to put the victim on trial in rape cases by suggesting that they are promiscuous or gold diggers.
Under redirect from the prosecution, the alleged victim testified that she had questioned whether it was consensual initially because she was still trying to work out what happened and wasn’t certain if it qualified as rape because she had not verbally objected.
Trial was adjourned for the day after she finished her testimony.