Man gets 16 years in rape of young boy

By Joe Gorman


A man charged with raping a 6-year-old boy last year avoided a life prison sentence by pleading guilty Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to two amended counts of first-degree rape.

Robert Houston Jones, 19, of Youngstown, was sentenced to 16 years, an agreement worked out between assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin and defense attorney James Vivo, after the charges were amended from felony/life rape charges.

Judge R. Scott Krichbaum handled the plea and sentence for Jones, who is deaf and had to have a sign-language interpreter translate the proceedings for him.

McLaughlin said the abuse took place in Youngstown in 2017 and was investigated by the city police department’s Family Services Investigation Unit and officer James Rowley.

Jones was living in the same home as the victim and the victim’s guardian when the abuse occurred, McLaughlin said. McLaughlin said one of the more disturbing things about the case is that Jones seems to have no idea what he did was wrong.

The victim’s guardian, who spoke to the judge, also said she is upset that Jones does not seem to understand how wrong his actions were.

"It just bothers me that Robert doesn’t understand what he did to this child,” the guardian said. She did say that the victim is in counseling and she worries for his future.

“I don’t know how to make it better,” she said.

Vivo asked the judge to honor the plea agreement. He said since he was arrested, Jones has never denied responsibility for what he did.

“He’s never wavered in his responsibility in this matter,” Vivo said.

Judge Krichbaum said he’d uphold the plea agreement for two reasons. The first is that Jones took responsibility for his actions. The second is that because the sentence is an agreed-upon sentence, Jones cannot appeal.

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