November 17, 2012
DA: I acted in adult movies
Suben appeared in 1970s films; will stay in office
CORTLAND — In a news conference Friday afternoon, recently re-elected Cortland County District Attorney Mark Suben admitted to appearing in several pornographic films in the 1970s in New York City — and lying about it when asked about the allegations by the media in recent weeks.
Suben, 69, said he will continue to serve as district attorney.
The admission came a day after a 15-minute anonymous video was posted on YouTube drawing similarities between Suben and a film star that went by the name of Gus Thomas and Irwin Schmeck, among others.
The adult films Suben appeared in include 1974’s “Deep Throat Part II” and “The Love Witch,” according to the movie information website IMDb.com.
The video is posted under the name of Irwin Schmeck, a YouTube user who registered Nov. 9 and posted only the Suben video on Thursday. It features clips from adult films and shows Suben engaging in sexual acts with women and speaking about his appreciation of women.
Suben appeared in his private law office on Greenbush Street at 3:15 p.m. Friday, reading a prepared statement before the news media. He declined to answer questions after the news conference. His wife, Susan Suben, was also present, as was his friend Gary Walter and members of his staff.
Suben spoke candidly, referring to the allegations that have circulated about his involvement in the adult film industry.
“Those allegations are true. I was an actor in adult films for a short period in the early ’70s,” said Suben, adding that he also acted in Off-Broadway shows, soap operas and advertisements.
He received his law degree from Fordham Law School in 1982. He was raised in Cortland and graduated from Cortland High School before earning a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Rochester and a master’s in the same subject from the University of Wisconsin.
Suben categorized his involvement in adult films as an example of “bad judgment” he exercised in his youth.
He apologized for denying the allegations when confronted with them by members of the news media prior to elections.
On Nov. 7, Suben was re-elected to a four-year term, winning about 56.4 percent of the vote to his Republican opponent Keith Dayton’s 43.6 percent.
Anonymous allegations of Suben’s history in the adult film industry have circulated for years, though this is the first time footage has been released and the comparisons made so publicly.
Suben, who used as a tenet of his campaign his willingness to give youthful offenders a second chance, framed his response Friday in that light.
“It has been my strong policy when possible to use good judgment and common sense when dealing with young people who make foolish mistakes, because it has been my experience that they often grow up to be productive members of the community,” Suben said.
“I know this firsthand, because I used bad judgment myself in my youth.”
Suben said he was embarrassed by his past when confronted with the adult film allegations in the weeks before the election.
“A few weeks ago, when asked, I denied this to members of the press,” Suben said. “I regret that and apologize for it. I was shocked and embarrassed to be confronted with this so many years later.”
Keith Dayton, Suben’s Republican opponent in the election earlier this month, said Friday he will meet with his campaign team and the Board of Elections as well as the Criminal Justice section of the Cortland County Bar Association.
Dayton said he wants to determine if the Bar Association will take a position regarding Suben’s revelation.
“Whatever position the Criminal Justice Section comes up with, we would present that to the full association to see if that’s adopted,” Dayton said.
Dayton said he wonders whether the public officials who endorsed Suben in his campaign bid, would have supported him had they known of his pornographic past. Dayton said he thinks the public endorsement Suben had from so many legislators and City Mayor Brian Tobin may have cost him the election.
Dayton said he will see how the process “plays out” and added that he would apply to be appointed interim district attorney, if Suben steps down.
If he decides to resign, according to County Law, the county clerk would have to declare a vacancy and then the governor would appoint an interim district attorney.
Another election would be held in November 2013 for the seat, said Republican Election Commissioner Bob Howe, who added that the interim district attorney would likely be a Democrat since that was the party that won the election.
Howe said Suben could complete the remainder of this term until January and then simply not take the oath of office for another term, prompting a vacancy in the seat, or he could resign at any point, creating a vacancy.
Calls to Democratic Party Chair Sandy Price, Republican Party Chair John Folmer and Victoria Monty, president of the Cortland County Bar Association, were not returned for comment by press time Friday.
The YouTube video is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZMFN6PzF68&feature=plcp.
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