MAHONING COUNTY Man sentenced in rape of girl, 2

The Salem-area man assaulted the victim during a Thanksgiving gathering.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The tearful Boardman woman said she'd known Joshua Dale Baird since she was 14.
"He was the best man at my wedding," she said, choking back tears.
That's why she never suspected that Baird would do anything to harm her children.
But the 29-year-old Salem-area man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to one count of rape. Prosecutors say he performed oral sex on a 2-year-old girl during a Thanksgiving dinner at a Beaver Township home in 2002.
As the victim's mother spoke, Baird sat in a chair some 10 feet away, looking down at the floor. He had nothing to say in his own defense before Judge Jack Durkin sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
As part of a plea agreement between Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Krueger and defense attorney Mark Lavelle, the sentence will be concurrent with an 11-year sentence Baird is serving out of Columbiana County Common Pleas Court for similar charges involving another victim.
The victim's mother said even though the little girl was so young at the time, she remembers what Baird did to her and has been traumatized by it.
Reason for plea deal
Krueger said she made the plea agreement to spare the victim from having to go through testifying about the ordeal at trial.
"I truly do not know what gratification an adult man can get from having sexual contact with a baby," Lavelle said, adding that the action is "repulsive."
He said Baird is driven by an inner sickness and compared him to drug-addicted people who appear weekly before Judge Durkin in county drug court. Lavelle said Baird needs counseling and treatment.
"But whether he can curb this or not, frankly I don't know," Lavelle said. "I just frankly don't understand it."
Judge Durkin said he believes Baird's prison sentence should have been in addition to the Columbiana County time, but he honored the recommendation from Krueger and Lavelle so the victim would not have to testify at trial.
"If there is anything that we want to do as parents, as a public, as a family, it's protect our children," he said.
Once Baird is released from prison, he will be required to register his home address with the sheriff in his county of residence every 90 days for the rest of his life.

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