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Saying she didn't think Coleman Peace would be able to control future urges to sexually assault children, a judge on Friday ordered the Randolph man to serve the rest of his life in prison without parole for raping a young girl last fall.
"I'm truly sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone," Peace told Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman just prior to being sentenced. "It was an impulse of my past."
"There's something very, very wrong with you," Pittman told Peace.
The victim's father agreed with PIttman during a victim impact statement, calling his former acquaintance "most heinous" and "monstrous."
"Nothing can explain away doing something like that to a child," the man said.
Peace was arrested in September on charges he raped the 3-year-old girl inside her home in Ravenna Township. The child's father found Peace and the girl alone inside her bedroom on Sept. 17, behind a locked door.
The victim told an adult Peace had sexually assaulted her, and Peace admitted the crime during questioning by a sheriff's detective. Pittman found Peace guilty of rape and gross sexual imposition after a one-day trial in April.
Peace will appeal his conviction and sentence, attorney Mark Carfolo of the Portage County Public Defender's Office said. He admitted his client committed a "horrific, horrible" crime, and one that "we as a society can never understand, don't want to accept and want to punish," he said, while asking Pittman to consider a lesser sentence than life without parole.
Peace's early childhood was "horrific and chaotic," Carfolo said. His mother died when he was 2 and he was abused by a chronically ill, alcoholic father until his mother's cousin, Twila Denziger, gained custody of him and became the only mother he ever knew, he said..
The abuse "magnified one-hundred times" the chance Peace would become an abuser and offender some day, Carfolo said. Denziger, meanwhile, told the judge she wanted to "see him get some help."
Assistant Portage County Prosecutor Eric Finnegan recommended the maximum sentence from the court.
Pittman reassured the victim's family that the child will heal.
"She's bright, she's strong, and with your help, she will be fine," the judge told the child's parents.
Along with the life sentence, Peace was ordered to serve five years for gross sexual imposition, to run concurrent with the life sentence. A Tier III sex offender, he would be required to register his address with his local sheriff's office every 90 days for the rest of his life if ever released.