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Published: Thursday, 8/28/2003

Man gets 18 years in sexual assault case

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The state's DNA database of sex offenders and other imprisoned violent criminals did what police investigators were unable to do.

It identified Robert John as the person who broke into a 92-year-old Oregon woman's home two years ago and sexually assaulted her.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Doneghy yesterday sentenced John, 54, to a maximum 18 years in prison. He classified John as a sexual predator, the highest level of classification for a sexual offender.

Oregon police Detective Bill Dewey said John probably would have gotten away with the crime if a sample of his DNA had not been in the Combine DNA Index System.

John was serving a prison sentence in the Lima Correctional Institution for two unrelated crimes when Oregon police sent evidence from the attack of the woman to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

The evidence was entered into the agency's computer database that contains the DNA of thousands of violent offenders in Ohio prisons, and positively matched John's DNA profile in November, Detective Dewey said.

Indicted on one count each of burglary, theft from an elderly person, and robbery, John entered an Alford plea July 14 to attempted rape and aggravated burglary. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but pleads guilty to a lesser offense to escape more severe penalties had the case gone to trial.

Detective Dewey said John knocked on the victim's front door Aug. 15, 2001, on the pretext of doing concrete work. When the victim told him she wasn't interested, he pushed through the door and repeatedly hit her in the face.

“He just physically overpowered her,” Detective Dewey said. “She said he hit her so hard that she thought she was going to lose consciousness.”

The defendant took about $60 from the victim's purse, then sexually assaulted her.

John will begin the sentence after he completes a four-year sentence for two Toledo crimes that involved the elderly. He was convicted in December, 2001, for burglary and theft from an elderly person.

In those incidents, he talked an 83-year-old woman into writing a check for $600 after brushing a thin layer of cement over cracks in her sidewalk. He also took $115 from a 91-year-old man's wallet after he knocked him to the ground. He was arrested for those crimes in November, 2001.

Denise Cubbon, an assistant county prosecutor, said the sentence was appropriate. “He took advantage of a vulnerable victim,” Mrs. Cubbon said.



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