Man gets life sentence for rape of 9-year-old girl

HAMILTON — A Bethel man has received a prison sentence of 19 years to life for the rape of a 9-year-old Hamilton girl.

James Woodward, 61, was sentenced Wednesday by Butler County Judge Craig Hedric, who noted the defendant showed no remorse for his actions.

During a trial in January, the young victim took the stand to recount the abuse, according to Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McElfresh. The crimes occurred between Jan. 1 and March 3, 2010, while Woodward, a relative, was living with the family, according to court records.

“This case had no confession by the defendant or DNA evidence, so it was the victim’s word against his. She was a very compelling witness,” McElfresh said.

The assistant prosecutor said once the girl told her mother about the abuse, the mother made up a story that she needed to get a key made and asked for Woodward’s house key. When the mother dropped off Woodward at a doctor’s appointment the next day, she never returned to get him, and contacted police.

Woodward was convicted for rape and one count of felony gross sexual imposition. Hedric sentenced him to life for the rape charge and an additional four years for the second charge. He will serve 19 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.

Woodward is now classified as a Tier III offender, which will require him to register every 90 days for the rest of his life if he is ever released from prison.

“Today’s life sentence ensures that Woodward will never again hurt this victim or any other child,” Prosecutor Michael T. Gmoser said Wednesday. “The pain and suffering Woodward inflicted upon this young girl will be with her for the rest of her life — it is only fair that Woodward serve the same sentence.”

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