The judge imposed a longer sentence than the prosecutor had sought.
By DEBORA SHAULIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Jeff W. Bell, convicted of raping a young girl he knew, says he was molested by a neighbor when he was 11 years old but never reported the crime.
Bell also told Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court how he was affected by his brother's shooting death, his father's relocation after a divorce and a drug habit.
"I can feel sorry for what you've been through, but I can feel nothing but contempt for your response to it," Judge Krichbaum said Friday before sentencing Bell to 18 years in prison.
Bell, 37, of East Liberty Street, Girard, and Trotter Drive, Boardman, wore a dark suit and tie and clutched a Bible as he stood before Judge Krichbaum.
Bell pleaded guilty in February to three counts of rape, all first-degree felonies, with the stipulation that he be labeled as a sexual predator. Five other rape counts were dropped in a plea agreement that was reached to relieve the girl from testifying in trial, assistant County Prosecutor Dawn Krueger said.
The rapes occurred from 1999 to 2004, when the victim was between age 11 and 14, Krueger said.
Judge Krichbaum sentenced Bell to consecutive six-year terms on each rape conviction, for a total of 18 years. Krueger had recommended a 15-year sentence.
Defense attorney Gary Van Brocklin, who asked Judge Krichbaum for leniency, said Bell should have sought counseling a long time ago.
"I do deserve [prison] time; there's no doubt about it," Bell told the judge, adding that he needs psychological and mental help.
Bell can't make restitution to the girl, who has been sentenced to a lifetime of bad memories, fear, sorrow and distrust, the judge said.
Bell will serve all 18 years, Krueger said. The sexual predator status means Bell must report to authorities every 90 days once he is released from prison, she added.