A former Kent man has been sentenced to nine months in the Portage County jail and been labeled a sex offender after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Kent girl in May.
Robert A. Ashworth, 34, now of Cuyahoga Falls, was sentenced Tuesday by Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman to 365 days in the Portage County jail, with work release privileges, along with four years on probation. With credit for 95 days already served in jail, Ashworth will serve about 270 days in jail.
Pittman also labeled Ashworth a Tier I sex offender, requiring him to register his address with his local sheriff's office once a year for the next 15 years.
She ordered him to have no contact with the victim or her family, who were his neighbors in Kent, and to stay at least 500 feet away from them at all times.
Ashworth also was fined $350 and ordered to get a mental health evaluation.
Initially charged with rape for an incident on May 27, Ashworth pleaded guilty to gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony. The incident, Assistant Portage County Prosecutor Steve Michniak said in court, was a result of Ashworth providing alcohol to the girl and her siblings at a bonfire at his house.
That led to sexual "touching" of the girl by Ashworth in his garage, Michniak said. The rape charge would have been hard to prove because investigators could not determine if there was any penetration because of the victim's level of intoxication, he said.
In a victim impact statement, the girl's mother told Pittman that her daughter "could not attend (the hearing) because she can not mentally face Robert Ashworth."
"She has nightmares, and our neighborhood is in turmoil," the mother said, asking the judge to give Ashworth the maximum sentence -- 18 months in prison, under Ohio law -- because of the "pain my 13-year-old daughter goes through every day."
Pittman told the woman that instead of prison, local sanctions including jail and probation will "allow me to keep my thumb on (Ashworth)."
Ashworth told Pittman he is "extremely sorry for all the grief this has caused all the parties."
Pittman told Ashworth that if he violates his probation, he will not be given a second chance.
"Don't worry about tougher sanctions," in the case of a probation violation, she said. "You are going to prison."
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