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Published: 5/16/2006

Fulton County rapist gets 15 years in prison

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WAUSEON - Russell L. May, a former board member of Friendship House, a homeless shelter in Archbold, Ohio, that he helped found, yesterday was sentenced to 15 years in prison for repeatedly raping a boy over a period of at least five years.

"This probably represents one of the most difficult, emotionally wrenching cases I have ever had to deal with," Fulton County Common Pleas Court Judge James Barber said.

May, 45, of Archbold, who pleaded guilty in March to three counts of rape, committed one of the worst forms of the offense, Judge Barber said.

The victim wept as a relative read his statement in court:

"When I was the age of 10 he started beating and raping me. He would make repeated threats against me and rape me at least once a week till I was the age of 15.

"It would happen in several different places and every day I would fear that he was going to do it again. I lived my life scared to death. I would always beg him to please stop, but he just continued doing what he wanted to do with me.

"I've always felt like I was sick and this never happened to anyone else. But I realized that I wasn't alone and that's when I told."

The victim, who confronted May and notified authorities in the winter of the rapes that happened about 10 years ago, went on to say in his statement, "I don't know if he has ever done this to anyone else. What I do know is that one day he just stopped. So I figured he found someone else to hurt."

May, who was in chains and a jail uniform from the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, Stryker, where he has been held since he pleaded guilty, looked into the courtroom audience as he said, "I want to apologize to my victim. I truly am sorry."

His attorney, Alan Lehenbauer, said May had a difficult upbringing and was abused as a child, so that when he was raping the boy he "wasn't truly cognizant of the wrongfulness" of his actions.

May told Judge Barber in March that he does not know how to read and that he had suffered from addictions and had been in trouble with the law in the past.

The difficulty of the case, the judge said, was that in recent years May had appeared to turn his life around and has been an active volunteer.

In 2000, when Friendship House was being planned, May told The Blade he spoke from experience in outlining the need he saw for a homeless shelter in Archbold. "I was homeless. I've been there. I know it's no fun when you can't get anywhere to stay or live," May had said.

Judge Barber said he received many letters in support of May. But the judge said rape is second only to murder in the seriousness of felony charges and to sentence May to less than 15 years in prison would not maintain the standards society has set.

Judge Barber also sentenced May to five years post release control and named him a sexually oriented offender, which requires him to register with the sheriff in any county where he resides upon release for 10 years.

The judge could have sentenced May to up to 30 years in prison and a $60,000 fine.

Chuck Bergman, an assistant county prosecutor, said at the time May pleaded guilty that he decided to charge him with only three counts of rape because he did not think more counts would result in a more severe sentence.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.



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