Trish Bennett, Editor
CIRCLEVILLE – An Ashville man who pleaded guilty Thursday to gross sexual imposition against two young girls will spend the next seven years in state prison for the crimes.
Benjamin C. Teasley, 40, also must register as a sex offender for 25 years, according to Judge P. Randall Knece in Pickaway County Common Pleas Court.
Teasley was indicted by the Pickaway County Grand Jury in January on one count of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition, to which he pleaded not guilty as his arraignment Jan. 13.
Those charges were amended Thursday to two counts of gross sexual imposition in a joint agreement between the Pickaway County Prosecutor’s Office and Steve Larson, Teasley’s defense attorney, with the blessing of the victims’ mothers, who also attended the sentencing hearing.
Detective Jeff George, Ashville Police Department, said the sexual conduct with the now 12-year-old girls began around 2009, when the victims were about 6 years old. One of the victims was a family member, he said, and the other a family friend.
George said investigators became aware of the activity when the girls came forward in July of 2015, and an investigation was launched into the allegations.
Teasley declined to speak on his own behalf at Thursday’s hearing, instead simply entering a guilty plea on both counts of gross sexual imposition.
The mothers of both victims were emotional as they delivered their victim impact statements to the court, both talking about their daughters’ loss of innocence at the hands of someone they knew and trusted and the long struggle they face to overcome their abuse. They also shared their own feelings of regret and shame over not recognizing the abuse much earlier.
Teasley, described as a stay-at-home dad and child care provider during the six-year period between September of 2009 and July of 2015, remained motionless and stared at the table in front of him while the mothers spoke on behalf of their children.
While handing down the sentence, Judge Knece told Teasley, “You can’t defend the indefensible.” Knece also recited a quote he said he keeps on the bench that states, “We have no greater responsibility than to raise our kids and protect them from harm.”
“You failed that big time,” Knece said.
Teasley will serve four years on the first third-degree felony count and three years on the second, which Knece ordered to be served consecutively for a total of seven years. He also will be subject to a mandatory five years of post-release control in addition to the 25-year sex offender registration.
Knece said Teasley will receive credit for time served in the Pickaway County Jail awaiting trial, and he was ordered to pay court costs in the case.
This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal