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Published: Tuesday, 7/19/2005

Williams County rapist to serve 5 concurrent life sentences

BRYAN - A 29-year-old hotel maintenance man from Williams County's Montpelier was sentenced yesterday to life imprisonment for five counts of rape of a girl who was under age 10.

Mark Alan Burkhart, of 510 Ohio St., was sentenced in Williams County Common Pleas Court to five terms of life imprisonment, which is mandatory for rape. But, according to a deal made when he pleaded guilty last month, the terms run concurrently. He will be eligible to apply for parole in 10 years.

If the terms had run consecutively, Burkhart would not have been eligible to apply for parole for 50 years, his court-appointed attorney, Michael Spangler, said. By agreeing to the lesser punishment in return for Burkhart's guilty plea, a trial during which the girl he raped would have been called to testify was prevented.

Burkhart also could have been fined up to $100,000; each count carried a possible $20,000 fine. But because Burkhart was found to be indigent, Judge Anthony Gretick said he did not impose a fine that Burkhart had no way of paying.

Burkhart did not speak during his sentencing.

"Mark was given the chance to address the court, but chose not to," his attorney said. "Nothing he could have said would have made much difference."

In May, Burkhart confessed to police to raping the girl, who knew him, during a period of three to five years. Police had been called by Williams County Job and Family Services, which had received a call from a principal at Superior Middle School in Montpelier.

Burkhart, who did not have a criminal record, told authorities at the time that he was married and was a maintenance worker at the Ramada Inn in Holiday City near the Ohio Turnpike.

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