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Published: 3/16/2010

Prosecutor seeks trial as adult in rape on sidewalk

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Liptack-Wilson Liptack-Wilson
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

Prosecutors want a 15-year-old rape suspect to be tried as an adult, despite a psychological report saying the youth is not mature enough to be transferred to adult court.

Jen Liptack-Wilson, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, asked Judge Connie Zemmelman yesterday to consider the "violent nature" of the daylight assault on a woman along a West Toledo street Jan. 19.

In opening statements during a hearing in Lucas County Juvenile Court, Ms. Liptack-Wilson said Anferney Fontenet should face charges of rape and aggravated robbery as an adult.

The hearing, which is to resume tomorrow, was to determine whether the Fontenet youth could be rehabilitated within the juvenile justice system or if he should be certified to stand trial as an adult.

Ms. Liptack-Wilson acknowledged an evaluation had recommended against sending the teenager to adult court, but she said the nature of the crime and the safety of the community required that he be subject to adult sentencing.

Young Fontenet is charged with delinquency in connection with rape and aggravated robbery for the sexual assault, committed in midday on a sidewalk.

Judge Zemmelman ruled Feb. 2 that there was enough evidence to charge the teenager with the crimes.

"We're asking you to take a step back from the doctor's report and see when is it that 'he did not show maturity?'•" Ms. Liptack-Wilson asked the judge.

She was referring to a March 4 report from a psychologist with the court diagnostic and treatment center.

During the brief hearing yesterday, Judy Hohenberger, an intake probation officer for the county's juvenile probation department, testified that young Fontenet was cooperative when talking to her and that he answered her questions appropriately.

She acknowledged that although he did not seem immature during the approximately 40-minute interview, she had not interacted with the teenager before or since the encounter.

During a recorded interview with police played in court at the Feb. 2 hearing, the teenager admitted he grabbed the victim around the neck, raped her, and took her phone.

He allegedly used a pair a scissors when assaulting the 26-year-old victim, who lives in a group home and has bipolar disorder and Asperger's syndrome.

The woman, who is not identified because she is a victim of sexual assault, did not attend the hearing.

Attorney Myron Duhart noted that the Fontenet youth had not been adjudicated in juvenile court previously.

Mr. Duhart added that the teenager has a mental illness - which he did not specify - and argued that he is an appropriate candidate for rehabilitation in the juvenile system.

"He is not emotionally or physically mature enough to be transferred," Mr. Duhart told the judge during opening statements.

Judge Zemmelman continued the hearing to tomorrow to hear from more witnesses. She then will decide whether to send Fontenet to adult court or retain jurisdiction. If convicted in adult court, the teenager would face up to 20 years in prison. If he remains in juvenile court, the maximum sentence would be in the Department of Youth Services until his 21st birthday.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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