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Published: Wednesday, 5/14/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Man gets life in prison in rape of 3-year-old

Judge appalled by ‘heinous’ act

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Najee Bryant will be eligible for parole after he has served 15 years of his sentence. Najee Bryant will be eligible for parole after he has served 15 years of his sentence.
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Calling his crime “the most egregious, repugnant” offense he’d ever seen, Lucas County Judge Myron Duhart Tuesday sent a Toledo man to prison for life for the rape of a 3-year-old.

Najee Bryant, 25, of 3335 Arlington Ave., will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years in prison. He was found guilty of rape in April after entering an Alford plea to the first-degree felony.

Before sentencing and as part of a plea agreement with Bryant, Judge Duhart viewed a video of the sexual assault that was recorded on Bryant’s cell phone. He told Bryant that as a lawyer, he represented murderers, rapists, and batterers, but Bryant’s actions “topped them all.”

“I do not and I cannot conceive of why and how you could do such a thing,” the judge told him. “You lack apparently the moral compass that I have to believe we all have. You somehow are missing that. You somehow don’t have it.”

Jennifer Lambdin, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said that on Aug. 22 Bryant forced the youngster for whom he was babysitting to perform oral sex on him — an act he recorded on his phone. The crime was discovered after Bryant loaned that phone to a neighbor who saw the recording and called police.

In Toledo Municipal Court in October, Bryant pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of menacing and was sentenced to 30 days in jail for threatening to kill the individual who had contacted police.

For the rape conviction, Bryant could have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, which his attorney, Mary Swanson, argued against. She said her client admitted he was addicted to pornography but told the court he was never diagnosed as a pedophile and had no prior sexual offenses.

“My client has no history of abuse of children,” she said. “… This is a man with a serious addiction that needs addressing but one that involves himself.”

Bryant apologized for his actions, saying he knew he needed to be punished but also needed a chance to get help. “This is something that I’ve struggled with for years, and it’s embarrassing,” he said.

Judge Duhart said regardless of Bryant’s own history of abuse, education, drug use, or other life experiences, something should have gone off in his head to say, “This isn’t right.”

“To do such a thing is terrible. It’s heinous,” the judge said.

He said he chose the option of 15 years to life because, at the minimum, Bryant’s victim would be 18 by the time Bryant was eligible for parole. He also classified Bryant as a sex offender who must register his address with the sheriff in the county where he lives every 90 days in person for the rest of his life.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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