Guilty plea will stand in rape case

Published 10:17 am Friday, July 9, 2010

The guilty plea of a Proctorville man charged with the rape of a young girl will stand.

That was the decision of Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Charles Cooper, who made his ruling Thursday.

Hoke, a convicted sex offender, had pleaded guilty in mid June to the first-degree rape of a 9-year-old girl. However, this week he went back to court seeking to withdraw that plea.

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Through his attorney, Mike Gleichauf, Hoke, 38, said that he had not fully understood what he was doing when he pleaded guilty to the charge that could mean prison for life, without the possibility of parole.

However, Cooper said this argument “flies in the face of a properly conducted Criminal Rules 11 hearing, which was the afforded the Defendant and properly carried out.”

Thus Cooper found that “the minimal requirements for a motion to withdraw a guilty plea prior to sentencing have not been met by the Defendant, and accordingly, the Defendant’s motion is overruled.”

Ohio law dictates that, given the age of the victim and nature of the crime, Hoke is expected to be sentenced to life in prison. However, he could seek parole after serving only 15 years. Hoke had already served a prison sentence in another state on a sex offense charge involving another juvenile.

He was arrested in March during a multi-agency sex offender sweep. That action was aimed at determining if convicted sex offenders were meeting the terms of federal laws that dictate where they may live and that they must notify authorities of their address, any moves and where they are working.

Hoke was arrested for failing to notify the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office on a change of address. After he was put in the county jail, the victim came forward telling authorities about the abuse. Rape charges followed.

Hoke will be sentenced in Cooper’s courtroom on Wednesday.