Plea agreement reached in rape case

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


A city man slated for trial this week on six counts of rape and a single count of kidnapping has entered a plea agreement with prosecutors wherein he will spend one year in prison.

Benjamin R. Ross, 20, of Vermont Avenue, was indicted in September on six counts of felony rape and one count of felony kidnapping. A jury trial was scheduled this week in the courtroom of Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Michael McBride, an assistant county prosecutor, said Ross is accused of going into a South Side home with a 17-year-old female in late August. He said the girl told authorities she was held captive for several days and raped before Ross walked away allowing her to escape.

Ross, just prior to the start of his trial, entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors in which one rape charge was amended to gross sexual imposition and all other charges were dismissed. Prosecutors and Atty. Terry Grenga, representing Ross, reached an agreed-upon sentence of 12 months in prison.

Judge Krichbaum imposed the sentence Monday. The victim was told about the hearing but chose not to attend. Ross chose not to make any statements before the sentencing.

Becky Doherty, an assistant county prosecutor, said a partial reason for the plea agreement was to save the victim from testifying and being forced to relive the incident on the stand.

“We don’t want to put the victim through a trial and perils that go along with that when we can get a guaranteed plea, an acceptance of responsibility and a prison term,” she said.

Prosecutors and the defense agreed to allow Ross to take a polygraph test that could have been admitted into evidence if the case had gone to trial. Doherty said the results of that test were inconclusive.

“There was deception, but not specific to any question,” Doherty said. “They could not relate it to what he was being deceptive about.”

Ross was convicted of trafficking in drugs in 2010 and was on probation from that case. He was charged with a probation violation and sentenced to nine months in prison on that charge.

The 12-month sentence for gross sexual imposition will be served consecutive to the nine-month term for probation violation.

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