Thursday, July 10, 2003

Teen pleads guilty to rape charge



By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - Prosecutors said a Hamilton Township mother of three who was raped by two Louisville teens in her home last November agreed that 15 years in prison was sufficient for one of her attackers.

But the woman stood in a Warren County courtroom Wednesday and questioned whether her life would ever be the same.

She said she has become untrusting, anxious, depressed and unable to sleep since she was stripped, hogtied and raped repeatedly Nov. 7 by 17-year-old Edward Lee Kessinger and another teen who then robbed her, stole her car and left her naked and bound in her bedroom closet.

"I used to be a very trusting person, and I lost that part of me," the woman told Judge Neal Bronson before Kessinger entered guilty pleas to five of nine charges. The woman is not being named because of the nature of the assault.

"I hate what Mr. Kessinger and his associate have done to us," she said.

Kessinger, who agreed to plead guilty to charges of rape, burglary, kidnapping and robbery as an adult and to accept a 15-year sentence, avoided a trial scheduled to start next week and the risk of many more years in prison. On the five charges alone, he faced a sentence of more than 50 years.

Other than to say he understood the plea agreement, the slight, burr-haired teen offered no explanation for his actions.

"I don't know what was running through your mind, Mr. Kessinger," Judge Bronson said. "But to be a person of your age and to have committed the offenses that you committed is mind-boggling to the court, and it's a heck of a way to start off your life. You merit every day of confinement that court is going to give you."

A second teen, who faces similar charges in the assault and robbery, remains jailed in Louisville, where he is scheduled to be sentenced as an adult today in a series of home invasion robberies in Jefferson County.

The 18-year-old also is wanted in Indiana for similar crimes, and prosecutors don't know when he will arrive in Warren County. But, they said they want to try him as an adult. He was 17 at the time of the Hamilton Township assault, and for now, is charged here as a juvenile.

Police said the teens confronted the woman in the garage of her home as she was leaving for the grocery store, forced her into the house and assaulted and robbed her before stealing her car.

Andy Roosa, the lead investigator who has since left the department, traced the suspects through the victim's stolen cell phone. One of the teens had made calls to a girlfriend in Louisville, he said.

Roosa later secured DNA from the suspects, which confirmed their involvement in the attack.

E-mail smclaughlin@enquirer.com




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