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Man facing sex charges has plea rejected by judge

October 07, 2005|By DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County Judge Carol Van Horn on Thursday rejected a plea agreement that would have resulted in a seven- to 20-year prison sentence for an Oklahoma man accused of raping his daughter.

The 34-year-old former resident of Washington Township, Pa., pleaded guilty to rape of a child, a first-degree felony, on April 27, along with an unrelated misdemeanor theft charge, according to court records. The plea agreement called for the state prison sentences for the rape and theft charges to run concurrently, according to Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom.

The man filed a petition with the court last week to withdraw his guilty plea and get a new attorney. Van Horn denied his motion for a new attorney and, instead of allowing him to withdraw the plea, rejected it and scheduled his case for the November trial term.

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After having reviewed his case, Van Horn told the man she could not accept a plea agreement with a sentence of seven to 20 years.

"All of the charges are again open for resolution," she told the man, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim.

Along with rape, the man is charged with statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, incest, criminal conspiracy, criminal solicitation to commit sex with an animal and criminal solicitation to commit rape of a child, according to court records.

"Typically, a judge will take a plea pending a presentence report," Krom said after the brief court appearance. Krom said she believed Van Horn found the agreement, negotiated by a former prosecutor, "inappropriate" after reviewing the report.

Defense attorney James K. Reed said his client wanted to withdraw his plea because "his prior record score could have conceivably resulted in a six-year sentence."

Thursday's court appearance was originally set for a hearing to determine if the man is a sexually violent predator. The hearing, which can result in a lifetime sexual offender registration under Megan's Law, cannot be held until after a conviction.

It was a letter left in a Washington Township mobile home after the man and his family moved to Oklahoma in 2003 that led township police to charge him and his 33-year-old wife, the girl's stepmother, with abusing the child.

On Nov. 3, 2003, the new occupants of the home found a letter in a water bed frame listing sexual positions and devices, along with the girl's name. The letter indicated she was involved in sexual activity with her father and stepmother, police said.

The father was taken into custody in Checotah, Okla., in July 2004 on an outstanding Pennsylvania warrant for burglary and extradited to Franklin County, according to court records.

After his arrest, the man's wife and three children left Oklahoma and returned to the Waynesboro, Pa., area, police said. The victim, who allegedly had been abused from the age of 5 to 13, had been abandoned by her family in Oklahoma, police said.

The stepmother has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination, is out on bail and is scheduled for trial in November, court records stated.

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