• 66°

Proctorville man gets 7 years for sex crimes

A Proctorville man will get seven years in prison for molesting two young children — and no furlough.

Eric S. Petersen, 42, of 309 Elizabeth St., Proctorville, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court to two counts of gross sexual imposition. In exchange for his guilty plea, one count of rape and eight other counts of gross sexual imposition were dismissed.

“This (guilty plea) will avoid putting the victims through a trial, having to relive the events,” Petersen’s attorney, Warren Morford said, adding that at the time these incidents occurred, Petersen was having emotional problems and was abusing alcohol.

Morford said Petersen has no memory of the incidents and is remorseful. Morford asked Judge D. Scott Bowling for a three-week furlough before Petersen was sent to prison. This would allow Petersen time to get a replacement trained at his workplace.

Bowling denied the furlough request without making any comment. Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Jeff Smith said the two counts of gross sexual imposition involved numerous episodes between November 2003 and March 2008. The little girls were 5 and 7 years old when the abuse began.

Meanwhile another man accused of gross sexual imposition and pandering obscenity involving a minor will not stand trial immediately, if ever, for his charges.

According to a mental evaluation prepared by Shawnee Forensics Center, Charles E. Rucker, 56, of 362 Township Road 1026, South Point, “suffers from mental disease or defect” and while his defect is not severe it does affect his ability to understand the nature of the proceedings against him and his ability to assist in his own defense.

Rucker suffers from mental retardation, court officials said. Rucker will be sent to the Appalachian Behavioral Health Center in Athens until such time as he is able to stand trial or up to eight years, which is the maximum sentence he could receive if he were to be found guilty of the charges against him.

Rucker is accused of inappropriately touching a 9-year-old girl and of taking photographs of her genitalia.