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W.Va. man faces sentencing in sex abuse case

May 26, 2010

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A 50-year-old man accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old Berkeley County girl pleaded guilty under Alford circumstances to two felony counts of child abuse resulting in injury and is scheduled to be sentenced July 29, according to court records.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges that there is enough evidence to gain a conviction.

Herbert C. Rice Jr., of Wetzel County, W.Va., is expected to be placed on probation for five years, and two consecutive 1- to 5-year prison sentences will be suspended as part of a binding plea agreement filed last week with Berkeley County Circuit Clerk Virginia M. Sine's office.

After the probationary period, Rice is expected to be placed on supervised release for 35 years, according to the agreement. Rice also would be required to register with the West Virginia State Police Child Abuse and Neglect Registry and have no unsupervised contact with minor children or have minor children at his residence.

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Rice was accused of sexually assaulting the girl in August 2002, in Bunker Hill, W.Va., but a combination of factors delayed prosecution of the case, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said Tuesday.

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