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Man charged with raping daughter enters guilty plea

February 23, 2006|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - For the second time, a former Washington Township man has pleaded guilty to raping his daughter, but he could face a longer sentence than was called for in the plea agreement that Franklin County Judge Carol Van Horn rejected last fall.

The 35-year-old man pleaded guilty Wednesday to rape of a child, a first-degree felony carrying a maximum of 40 years in prison. In October, Van Horn rejected a plea agreement to the same charge for which the man would have served a sentence of seven to 20 years in prison.

"The sentencing judge ... does have the authority to sentence you in the aggravated range or above the aggravated range," Van Horn told the man, whose name is being withheld by The Morning Herald to protect the child's identity.

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Rape of a child has a mandatory minimum sentence of five years, Van Horn said. If she sentences him in or above the aggravated range under state sentencing guidelines, Van Horn said his minimum sentence could be 7 1/2 years or more.

Van Horn told Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom and defense attorney James Reed to submit memoranda to the court arguing their positions on the man's sentencing.

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 34-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 waterbed 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 Oklahoma 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 daughter had been abandoned by her family in Oklahoma, police said.

The man admitted in court to having sexual intercourse with his daughter between 2000 and 2004, records state.

"Eleven and a half," the man said when asked how old the girl was.

Krom said the stepmother is free on bond and her case is pending. The child lives with a foster family in Oklahoma, Krom said.

The man also was 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. Those charges and an unrelated criminal conspiracy to commit burglary charge will be dismissed as part of the plea agreement, according to Krom.

Before the man can be sentenced, the court must hold a hearing to determine if he is a sexually violent predator and subject to the lifetime registration and community notification requirements of Pennsylvania's Megan's Law. That hearing is scheduled for April 3.

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