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Wintersteller found guilty in plea deal

Wintersteller-Robert

WINTERSTELLER

A Belle Center area man was found guilty Monday of sexual battery and gross sexual imposition in a plea arrangement to avoid trial on four counts of rape.

Robert A. Wintersteller, 45, of 11307 County Road 97, used a procedure known as an Alford Plea to enter guilty pleas to the charges.

Defendants, who use such proceedings, contend they have not committed a crime, but acknowledge prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them of the offenses.

Logan County Judge Mark S. O’Connor heard from Special Prosecutor Christopher L. Kinsler with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office before finding the defendant guilty.

Mr. Kinsler said investigators found a sexual device during a search of the defendant’s home. On it, technicians found DNA from the defendant and his biological daughter.

This would support the victim’s claims the defendant engaged in sexual conduct with the victim over a two-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2010, the prosecutor said.

As for the gross sexual imposition charge, a female babysitter said the defendant fondled her breasts starting in 1993 and continuing for two years.

Mr. Kinsler said the victim was a juvenile and did not believe she was free to leave the Wintersteller residence.

The defendant was first indicted in late 2012. In addition to the rape charges, he faced four counts of sexual battery, six counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of importuning. He also was charged with misdemeanor counts of intimidating a victim or witness and domestic violence.

All of the remaining charges were dropped as a part of the agreement, a deal that was reportedly satisfactory to the victims.

Special prosecutors from the attorney general’s office took on the case after Logan County Prosecutor William T. Goslee referred it to the state. Mr. Goslee handled civil cases for the defendant while in private practice.

It is not the first time the defendant has faced molestation allegations.

He was previously charged with five counts of gross sexual imposition, but the case fell apart after the female victim recanted some of the allegations and her mother refused to cooperate with the prosecution.

He reached a plea agreement in 2009 to avoid a sex conviction in that case.

Judge O’Connor set sentencing for 1:15 p.m. May 27.

The defendant faces up to five years on the sexual battery charge and up to 18 months on the gross sexual imposition charge.

He will be classified as a Tier III sex offender and will have to register with the local sheriff’s office every 90 days for life.

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