A 23-year-old Washington C.H. man admitted in court Monday to raping his 14-year-old cousin and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
The Record-Herald reported in August that Jeffrey C. Harmison, of 825 Rawling St., had been indicted on charges of first-degree felony rape and fourth-degree felony unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
He had been held in the Fayette County Jail for 83 days on a $100,000 bond since his July 28 arrest date, but will now be transported to prison by an order of the court.
The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) began to investigate the case when a 14-year-old victim reported that she had been touched by her cousin shortly after the rape occurred July 14.
During Monday’s court hearing, it was stated on the record that the rape occurred at the 14-year-old victim’s family’s house, who was relocating at the time and had asked Harmison to help with moving.
When the victim’s mother was gone to pick up another child, the 14-year-old victim was “in bed…he came in and got on top of her with his pants down,” according to Fayette County Assistant Prosecutor Sean Abbott.
Fayette County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven Beathard asked Harmison if that is what happened July 14.
“Yeah your honor,” stated Harmison.
Before sentencing was ordered, Abbott said that the rape was stressful to the 14-year-old victim, who appeared for the proceeding but walked out of the courtroom shortly after the hearing began. The victim did not make any statements on her behalf.
Abbott said the victim had called 911 and said that her cousin had tried to touch her but did not go into detail; when FCSO arrived she was hiding in a locked car. DNA evidence was collected, Abbott said, and detectives seized a laptop and cell phone from Harmison to be sent to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Thomas J.C. Arrington, Harmison’s defense attorney, attempted to mitigate the complaints against his client and said, “it was an isolated incident.” There were no drugs or alcohol involved, said Arrington. Harmison did not make any statements.
Beathard said, “Mr. Harmison is the type of person where everyone needs to know where he is, and when he is released, by notification of his employment, house, school — and by a notification, not just by a general registry of sex offenders.” Beathard ordered Harmison to sign a declaration in open court as a requirement to register as a tier III sex offender for the rest of his life, with verification of his whereabouts required every 90 days.
In the negotiated sentence, the state dismissed the charge of unlawful sexual conduct, and Harmison was sentenced to eight years in prison for the charge of rape.
Instead of speaking, the victim wrote a letter, and her mother addressed Harmison and read a short letter aloud in court, emphatically stating: “Eight years isn’t enough.”
Beathard imposed the eight-year sentence and informed Harmison that in addition, he will have a parole officer and will have to comply with the Ohio Adult Parole Authority once he is released from prison. If Harmison violates the terms of parole or sex-registry requirements, he can be placed back into jail and have four-to-five years added to his prison sentence, said Beathard.
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