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Tony Cercy

Tony Cercy makes his initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court in July in Casper. He pleaded not guity Wednesday to rape charges.

Casper businessman Tony Cercy pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges alleging he raped a 20-year-old woman at his Alcova Lake home in June.

Cercy entered the pleas to three felony charges during an arraignment in Natrona County District Court. He did not speak other than to plead not guilty and answer procedural questions.

Dressed in a gray sport coat and blue jeans, Cercy stooped to say “Not guilty,” into the microphone.

After Cercy entered his pleas, the attorneys turned their attention to the length of his upcoming trial. In district court, criminal trials are typically scheduled to last three days. However, both the prosecution and defense said a three-day trial would be too short.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Shafer said three days was “not adequate,” but did not specify how long he expected the trial to take.

Cercy’s lawyer, Pamela Mackey, said the trial could last up to six days. Judge Daniel Forgey told Cercy he’d need to waive his right to a speedy trial to find space in the schedule, which the defendant did.

Typically, a trial must take place within 180 days of district court arraignment. Because Cercy waived his right to a speedy trial, the time limit will not apply in this case.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys said they would like to see the trial scheduled as soon as possible.

“Mr. Cercy would like to have the trial as quickly ... as scheduling allows,” Mackey said.

Cercy is facing first-, second- and third-degree charges of sexual assault. All three charges are felonies, and the first-degree charge is punishable by up to 50 years in prison.

The woman has alleged Cercy raped her on a couch at his Alcova house early on the morning of June 25. She told investigators she woke to him performing oral sex on her.

A judge ruled last month that enough evidence exists for Cercy to stand trial. During that hearing, an investigator testified that the woman made 43 phone calls in the early morning hours of June 25 and sent a text that said, “help, please.”

At that earlier hearing, Cercy’s lawyer questioned the motives and reliability of his accuser and noted inconsistencies in the investigator’s report.

The 55-year-old businessman and philanthropist is free on a $100,000 bond. The next step in the case will be a pre-trial conference, during which the prosecution and defense will discuss the length of the trial, among other issues. The court did not set a date for the proceeding.

Cercy has invested widely in downtown Casper since selling his manufacturing company, Power Service Inc., in April 2016. He’s also made several high-profile charitable donations including a $1 million contribution to the the David Street Station downtown plaza.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson

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