Man sentenced to 30 years in rape


By PETER H. MILLIKEN

milliken@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A man who pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping and robbing his former girlfriend, burglarizing her home and fleeing from the state trooper who chased and caught him, is going to prison for 30 years.

Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court imposed the sentence Monday on Michael A. Harsch, 24, of Fourth Street.

“I have nightmares. I’m scared when I go to work. ... I cry constantly,” the 23-year-old victim told the judge.

“He knew exactly what he did when he did it. He’s not dumb,” she said, urging the judge to exceed the 25-year prison term recommended by Natasha K. Frenchko, assistant county prosecutor.

“Sometimes love makes people do stupid things,” Harsch told the judge. “It’s so unfair that it’s possible for me to lose 10 years of my life for actions committed out of love, emotion and passion,” Harsch added before the judge put him away for 30 years.

Judge Sweeney said she was disturbed by Harsch’s prior criminal record, which landed him in prison twice and indicates a high risk he’ll re-offend.

The victim returned from work to her Myron Avenue residence March 18, 2009, finding Harsch had broken into her home, police said.

Harsch raped her there at knife point, choked her, threatened to kill her and forced her to drive him to her father’s residence, where he forced her at knife point to open the door with her key, police said.

There, Harsch stole a revolver and a shotgun before forcing her to drive to an ATM and withdraw $400 and ordering her to drive him to Florida, the victim told police.

While they were in West Virginia, she said, she talked Harsch into returning to Youngstown, where he got out of the car.

A few days later, the victim told police she came home and ran away after hearing someone run down her steps.

Harsch chased and caught her on the street, forced her into her car at gunpoint and drove her into Trumbull County, where he crashed the car and was captured by a state trooper after a vehicular chase on state Route 82.

Harsch will be on parole for five years after he leaves prison and must register as a sex offender quarterly with the sheriff for life.

Defense lawyer Anthony P. Meranto said an appeal will be filed.

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