Youngstown man sentenced to 44.5 years to life in prison for sex offenses against girls

YOUNGSTOWN — Judge Anthony D’Apolito said sitting through a jury trial like he did when he presided over the rape and gross sexual imposition trial of Robert J. Tullio can bring out truths that might not come out in a plea agreement.

“The jury heard the victims. I heard the victims. I think how descriptive they were of the events, how there was not malice in their words, even though there could have been. Some people might even say there should have been. They just sought to tell their story,” the judge said.

“I have to consider and am struck by what they went through,” he said before sentencing Tullio to 44 1/2 years to life in prison Thursday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for three rape convictions and 10 counts of gross sexual imposition involving three females who were young when they were victimized by Tullio.

Caitlyn Andrews, assistant prosecutor, said prosecutors were recommending that Tullio, 55, of Youngstown, get 35 years to life in prison, noting that two of the convictions were for a type of rape that can result in a life prison sentence. That is because the victim was less than 13 at the time.

“We are here because the defendant sexually abused three different girls,” she said. Tullio was “in the military and was seemingly a great guy. But he really was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The things he did when no one was around were heinous and haunting,” she said.

“He shattered their innocence,” Andrews said. Two of the victims “had to wait two decades before they got justice.” The rapes and gross sexual impositions they suffered occurred starting in the 1990s, according to their indictments.

One of those women was 34 when she testified. “And she came in and she told the details about the rape and sexual abuse that occurred to her 25 years ago as though it happened to her yesterday,” she said.

Tullio has never accepted responsibility, she said. He “testified at trial, sat up there and said they all made this up, that they were all lying,” she said.

“He is a predator, and he is a danger to the community,” she said. “And given the gravity of the harm that occurred to all three victims, he should spend the rest of his life in prison.”

The criminal case began with one victim coming forward to allege offenses against her. But after Tullio’s arrest, two other victims came forward to say they were sexually abused by Tullio, in their case starting in the late 1990s. One of those victims was the one whose rapes led to the life prison sentences because of her age at the time of the offenses.

One of the victims gave a victim impact statement Thursday, saying that when a man has the titles, “father, soldier, coach, husband, son, instructor, mentor, grandfather, sergeant, uncle, co-worker, stepfather. To most people these are titles of someone positively symbolic in your life. To many, these people symbolize someone with respect, admiration from others, someone loving and nurturing, someone trustworthy and safe.

“But to me, they all remind me of the man who sexually assaulted me for years.” She said Tullio “took my young, naive soul at such a young age and crushed it into a million pieces, making me feel broken and confused,” she said. It took many years, but today, “I no longer live in fear, and I am no longer afraid if someone knew the truth,” she said.

Another of the victims told the judge “I still to this day have nightmares and flashbacks of the things I had gone through as a little girl. The constant pain and guilt still haunts me and probably always will. At the time I was confused and knew it was wrong, and I didn’t like it but I also thought it was wrong to say anything bad about this man,” she said.

Mark Lavelle, Tullio’s attorney, said a life prison sentence would punish Tullio sufficiently. “I think that would satisfy the blood lust associated with this particular situation. He will be in the hands of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. And if in their infinite wisdom they determine at some point in the future he’s fit to rejoin society, wearing the scarlet letter he will be wearing in his mid-sixties minimum, is he a threat at that point to our society?”

Lavelle said he is “worried of prosecutors who, if a defendant has the temerity to take his case to trial, which he has a right to do, he’s not accepting responsibility. That’s a trial tax. That’s a sin. That shouldn’t be considered.”

He asked that the judge not give Tullio consecutive sentences because that would “ensure that he dies in the penitentiary.”

Tullio gets credit for 581 days spent in the Mahoning County jail awaiting trial.

Have an interesting story? Contact Ed Runyan by email at erunyan@vindy.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday.


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