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Child rapist gets 10 years to life

Liberty man must register as sex offender for rest of life

WARREN — A Liberty man on Thursday showed little emotion as he was given a 10-years-to-life sentence connected to the rape of a 6-year-old girl.

James E. Pierce Jr., 77, 1104 Mansell Drive, Liberty, appeared before Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Ronald J. Rice for a sentencing hearing that was delayed from Tuesday.

When Rice asked Pierce why he missed Tuesday’s hearing, attorney Gerald Ingram responded that his client was in the hospital because he tried to kill himself.

The man was the subject of an investigation after Liberty police were called April 21, 2020, to a Mansell Drive address because a man was found naked in a hot tub with a young girl. The child was 5 at the time of the crime.

Rice said this case was one of the worst he has seen as a judge.

“This court has tried a lot of disturbing cases over the years,” Rice said in labeling the defendant a Tier 3 sexual / youth victim offender, which means Pierce will have to register his whereabouts every 90 days for life if he is released. His first chance at parole will be after serving 10 years in prison.

Pierce on Oct. 23 pleaded guilty to two counts of child rape and one count of disseminating material harmful to juveniles. The guilty pleas came after Rice overruled defense motions to suppress evidence in the case that was scheduled for trial Oct. 26.

Ingram noted that his client did not have a previous criminal record and was married for 49 years and had raised a family. The lawyer seemed to think his client would respond affirmatively to incarceration.

“I have been thinking about this for several months,” Pierce said when the judge asked him to speak. “If it means incarceration, then it is God’s will.”

Pierce was free after posting $500,000 bond until he missed Tuesday’s hearing. After being released from St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, reports show that Pierce was taken Tuesday evening to Trumbull County jail where he remains on suicide watch until he can be transported to Lorain Correctional Institution.

Assistant Prosecutor Diane Barber, chief of the Trumbull County child assault prosecution unit, and assistant Prosecutor Ryan Sanders handled the case for the state. Barber said representatives for the victim chose not to come to court Thursday to deliver an impact statement.

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