Friday, January 22, 1999

Rapist, 15 county's youngest inmate

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A West End teen-ager became Hamilton County's youngest prison inmate Thursday when a judge sentenced him to nine years for raping a girl in his kitchen.

        Maurice Stewart, 15, stared at the floor and muttered “I'm sorry” as prosecutors described his crime in Common Pleas Court.

        Despite Mr. Stewart's age, Judge Norbert Nadel said the teen was a sexual predator and a threat to the community.

        “You're a danger to society and you must be incarcerated for the protection of society,” the judge said.

        Mr. Stewart, who initially had faced a possible life sentence, pleaded guilty last month to a lesser charge of rape. He also entered pleas to kidnapping and gross sexual imposition.

        Prosecutors say Mr. Stewart lured the 9-year-old girl into his house on April 26 by telling her his sister wanted to play a game with her.

        Once she was inside, they say, he tied her up with garbage bags, wrapped a towel around her head and raped her.

        In a taped statement to police a day later, Mr. Stewart said he tied her up but only touched her briefly before she began to yell for help.

        Mr. Stewart's attorney, Kenneth Lawson, has said his client, only 14 at the time, was manipulated by police into making incriminating statements.

        The teen was first charged last year under a 1996 law that allows offenders as young as 14 to be charged in adult court.

        He was only the second Hamilton County youth charged under the new law. He also was the youngest.


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