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South Side man is convicted of 20 rape counts



Published: Wed, October 25, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defendant is facing eight mandatory life terms.

By PETER H. MILLIKEN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- An assistant Mahoning County prosecutor says justice for Ronald E. Brooks is long overdue.

A jury convicted Brooks on 20 counts of rape, many of them involving minors and one of them dating back 24 years, and four counts of gross sexual imposition Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

The eight-woman, four-man jury deliberated four hours at the end of a weeklong trial, convicting Brooks of all 24 counts for which he was on trial in the courtroom of Judge Maureen A. Cronin.

All three victims were relatives of Brooks', and all three testified during the trial. Dawn Krueger, assistant county prosecutor, said there was no scientific evidence presented, and the case relied solely on witness testimony.

Brooks' lawyer, Doug Taylor, declined to comment after the verdicts were read. No sentencing date for Brooks was announced in court, but Krueger said it would likely be in about two weeks.

Brooks, 61, of East LaClede Avenue, was convicted of four counts of gross sexual imposition on a girl who was between the ages of 8 and 12 when the offenses occurred between 2000 and 2003.

He also was also convicted of 18 counts of rape involving another female who was between the ages of 7 and 23 when the offenses occurred between 1982 and 1998 and two counts of rape involving a girl who was between the ages of 11 and 15 between 1994 and 1997. All of the offenses occurred in Brooks' residence.

Life sentences

Brooks is facing eight mandatory life sentences for the rape of victims under 13; 12 additional first-degree felony rape counts, each carrying three to 10 years in prison; and four third-degree felony (gross sexual imposition) counts, each punishable by one to five years in prison.

"Any time we give him is going to be a life sentence," Krueger said, referring to Brooks' age and any sentence the judge might impose.

Krueger said the police investigation of the case revealed reports of complaints lodged with Mahoning County Children Services Board against Brooks dating back to the early 1980s, which involved other juvenile victims and which did not result in criminal prosecution.

"If someone would have done something back in the early '80s, we wouldn't have had so many victims," Krueger said.

The early reports "always fell through the cracks or were dropped by the investigators or by children services, and it was just a matter of things coming together later on," Krueger said, adding that the early complaints allege the same pattern of behavior by Brooks as was presented during the trial.

"I'm very satisfied with the verdict," Krueger said.

Putting case together

Krueger said the case was referred to her office at the end of 2004 and the indictment was returned by a grand jury early in 2005. "We had the detectives do some research, found the old stuff and put it all together," she added.

"It's not the role of CSB to press criminal charges and to prosecute cases," said Denise Stewart, children services director since 1998. "Our role is to protect the child, and then we work cooperatively with law enforcement.

"Any criminal investigations are referred to law enforcement, and then it's taken to the prosecutor for prosecution," Stewart added.




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