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Man sentenced in assault of girl

January 28, 2009|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A Waynesboro, Pa., man who pleaded guilty to sexually molesting a 12-year-old girl at a New Year's Eve party was sentenced Wednesday in Franklin County Court to nine to 18 years in state prison after unsuccessfully attempting to withdraw his guilty plea.

Clayton D. Tavenner, 34, formerly of 3426 Scar Hill Road, pleaded guilty in October to unlawful sexual contact with a minor and aggravated indecent assault. Other charges that had been filed by the Waynesboro Police Department, including rape of a child, were dismissed, according to court records.

Tavenner had filed a brief to the court requesting that he be allowed to withdraw his plea to the two second-degree felonies, but Judge Carol Van Horn denied that motion and a request by attorney Vincent Manfredo that his client's $10,000 bail be continued pending an appeal.

The judge asked Tavenner if he wanted to apologize.

"I apologize for the fact that this is felt to be gaming the system," Tavenner said of his request to withdraw the plea.

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"I was thinking of the victim," Van Horn interrupted.

Tavenner then said he apologized for "the pain she is going through," but added that the incident had been "completely blown out of proportion."

"That has to be the biggest non-apology I've ever heard," Van Horn said. "She was 12 years old at the time ... What you did was criminal and morally reprehensible."

Police said Tavenner was at a New Year's Eve party on Dec. 31, 2007, in the 400 block of South Potomac Street. The girl's mother became ill and fell asleep on a couch, and the girl went upstairs and slept in her mother's bed, police said.

The girl told police Tavenner fell asleep in the bed, but later awoke and sexually assaulted her. After the assault, the girl took a telephone into the bathroom and called 911, police said.

Tavenner told police he had no recollection of the incident, the affidavit of probable cause stated. However, Tavenner's DNA matched that of samples taken from the girl when she was examined at a hospital.

Instead of a victim statement, the girl wrote a poem, "Midnight Terror," which Assistant District Attorney Lauren Sulcove read to the court.

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