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Dement gets 18 years for raping child

A Proctorville man will spend 18 years in prison – the maximum under Ohio law – for raping an 8-year-old village girl.

Friday, September 15, 2000

A Proctorville man will spend 18 years in prison – the maximum under Ohio law – for raping an 8-year-old village girl.

Lawrence County Common Pleas Court Judge Frank McCown sentenced Leonard R. Dement Jr., 36, of County Road 12, Proctorville, to 10 years in prison Thursday for first-degree felony rape and eight years in prison for second-degree felony kidnapping.

"What you have done, sir, in this situation, is destroy the life of a young child," McCown said after the sentencing, adding that Dement showed no remorse.

McCown did not follow a previous plea agreement to run the prison terms at the same time, saying the harm done by Dement’s actions and the need to protect the public warranted the stiffer sentence of consecutive prison terms.

The judge’s decision came after refusing a motion for Dement to change a guilty plea that followed his June 7 indictment.

A criminal defendant may request a plea change but it is not a right under Ohio law – the court must grant or deny the motion.

Defense attorney Richard Wolfson addressed the court, saying Dement pleaded guilty to avoid a jury trial and the possibility of life in prison.

"This apparently weighed so heavily upon him at the time that he thought it better to accept what seemed like a definite (prison) term," Wolfson said.

Since then, Dement has had a change of thought, he said.

Dement also believes in his innocence and feels there are witnesses that cast a reasonable doubt upon the charges, Wolfson said.

"As the court is aware, we vigorously resist this motion," county prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. said.

A 36-year-old man raped an 8-year old girl and then confessed to the crime, Collier said.

The prosecutor cited Dement’s criminal background and said he entered a guilty plea fully knowing his rights.

McCown agreed, denying the defense motion.

The court then proceeded into the sentencing phase. Dement did not speak on his own behalf.

The victim’s grandfather, Dave Browning, addressed the court, calling on it to impose a life sentence or the death penalty against Dement.

"He doesn’t appreciate any form of life or he would have in no way even thought of doing this," Browning said. "The things he has taken away from her can never be given back He has ruined so many lives in this one incident, he should never be let out of jail."

Wolfson said statements and Dement’s criminal background raised questions of his ability to understand what it takes to be a member of society, requesting the court order a competency evaluation.

Dement also has the right to an automatic appeal, which Wolfson requested. McCown appointed Wolfson as Dement’s appellate attorney.