Two men sentenced in separate rape cases

Judges imposed lengthy prison terms on the two men who raped minors.


YOUNGSTOWN — A 38-year-old Hubbard Road man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping two high school-age girls, and a 59-year-old Craiglee Avenue man is going to prison for 10 years for raping a 12-year-old girl.

After the prosecution’s recommendation, Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court imposed the two-decade prison term Thursday on Christopher DeWitt, who was convicted by a jury of three counts of rape Tuesday at the end of a two-day trial.

DeWitt, a Navy veteran with no prior criminal record, was convicted of raping the two girls, one 16 and the other 17, as they slept in his residence in July 2008.

The girls awakened to find DeWitt raping them, according to Gabriel Wildman, assistant county prosecutor.

An hour later, in another courtroom, Judge James C. Evans sentenced Larry B. Watson to 10 years in prison for the rape of a 12-year-old girl in his residence in 2004.

Watson had pleaded guilty to a single rape count after the prosecution removed the life sentence specification from it and dropped a second rape count and two counts of gross sexual imposition. All counts pertained to reported offenses against the same victim in 2004.

“He’s a great dad and a wonderful husband,” DeWitt’s wife, Michelle, said. “He’s not a monster,” she added, urging leniency in sentencing.

“I didn’t do this to either one of them,” DeWitt said of the teenagers. DeWitt told Judge Krichbaum that he has worked daily, paid his bills and provided for his family.

“These are two beautifully innocent and naive young girls who came into your home in what they thought was a trusting, loving and safe situation,” Judge Krichbaum said.

“They somehow come out of their sleep and realize they’re not asleep at all. But there is a nightmare there, and that nightmare is you,” Judge Krichbaum told DeWitt before sentencing him.

DeWitt’s lawyer, Daniel Thiel, said an appeal will be filed.

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