Thursday, July 27, 2000

Man gets 15 years for child rape

Judge labels him a sexual predator

By Mara H. Gottfried
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A former truck driver was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday for raping an 11-year-old girl. And although he escaped other sex charges, he was labeled a sexual predator by a Warren County judge during the hearing.

        “This is definitely someone who exploits children and people who are vulnera ble,” Warren County Assistant Prosecutor Joanne Hash said of Keith Larison, 45. “He caused chaos in her (the girl's) life, which continues to this day.”

        Mr. Larison was convicted in May on two counts of raping the girl in 1996 and 1997 when he lived with the girl's mother.

        In another case, the prosecutor's office on Wednesday dismissed three counts of sexual imposition and gross sexual imposition against Mr. Larison because the two alleged victims, both teen-agers, declined to testify.

        “They've moved out of state and re-established their lives,” said Warren County Prosecutor Timothy Oliver. “We thought this would be best for everyone because we've got about as much out of this case as we're going to get.”

        Mr. Larison's attorney, Greg Demos, said there will be an appeal.

        Lana Larison, Mr. Larison's wife, maintained his innocence throughout the trial.

        “There wasn't enough evidence in the case,” Mrs. Larison said. “I personally feel this was a case of he said, she said.”

        Mr. Larison said nothing in his defense during the sentencing, but he winked at his wife when he was led into Judge Neal Bronson's courtroom and told her he loved her when he left.

        During the sexual predator hearing, Mr. Demos argued that Mr. Larison should not be labeled a sexual predator. He cited a psychological evaluation that concluded there was a 33 percent chance Mr. Larison would commit a sexual offense in the next five years and a 40 percent chance in 15 years.

        “These numbers show we're not even close to likely,” Mr. Demos said. “They show there is no clear and convincing evidence he is a sexual predator.”

        Because he was declared a sexual predator, Mr. Larison must report to the sheriff's office four times a year for the rest of his life once he is released from prison. His neighbors would be notified of his sexual predator status.

        Upon his release, he will also be under prison officials' supervision for five years, Judge Bronson said.

        Mr. Larison, of Lebanon, had been acquitted earlier of raping a disabled 19-year-old woman for lack of evidence.


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