UNION COUNTY — A West Mansfield man could spend the rest of his life in prison for raping a young girl.
Zachery Lee Edwards, 24, of West Mansfield, was sentenced Tuesday, March 14, in
Union County Common Pleas Court to two consecutive life sentences for two charges of rape, first-degree felonies.
Edwards previously pleaded guilty to raping a pre-teen family member. He was originally indicted in October, 2021, on nine counts of rape.
He will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years in prison. He must register as a Tier III child sex offender for life. Union County Common Pleas Court Judge Don Fraser called the facts presented in the case, “some of the most egregious,” he’s read during his time as a judge.
The sexual assaults weren’t discovered until the child went to her mother asking about a pregnancy test.
The child’s mother learned Edwards had engaged in numerous sex acts with the victim beginning when she was 12 years old. Law enforcement was notified by the girl’s parents.
Text messages were recovered between Edwards and the victim during law enforcement’s investigation that indirectly referenced the assaults. When asked about the texts, Edwards denied any knowledge and claimed the young girl was trying to, “break him and his wife apart,” according to Union County prosecutors.
The defendant’s wife defended her husband, reportedly claiming to police the girl was a “compulsive liar” that was being “coached” by her mother.
The victim disclosed the details of the sexual assaults to a specially trained social worker at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Child Assessment Center.
Investigators reviewed the disclosures and discovered physical evidence consistent with the statements made by the child at one of the locations the child alleged a sex act occurred.
A search warrant was executed in Logan County to get a sample of the defendant’s DNA. Forensic analysis of one of the recovered items was consistent with Edwards being the contributor of the DNA on the recovered item.
Edwards expressed no remorse and offered no statement at his sentencing.
In her victim impact statement, the child told the court she kept the sexual assaults a secret because she feared the impact on her family. She felt the need to protect her family, she said. She went on to say that certain family members blamed her for the assaults.
The case was investigated by the Union County Sheriff’s Office after an initial report to the Marysville Division of Police.