Aaron/Erin gets 15 to life

LISBON – Aaron LaGrand, the man who spent nearly a decade staying with a family while pretending to be a woman, will be spending at least the next 15 years in prison.

LaGrand, 33, West Eighth Street, East Liverpool, who had gone by the woman’s spelling Erin, had lived with the family and watched children. Most of the charges involved sexual acts which occurred in that home, although one reportedly happened at LaBelle Terrace Apartments.

Throughout the time LaGrand was living with the family, they believed he was a woman. LaGrand even continued denying being a man at the time of his arrest.

Assistant County Prosecutor Timothy McNicol credited East Liverpool Detective Rob Smith, who McNicol said “did an excellent job with a difficult and complicated case” despite being a relatively new detective at the time the case was reported to police.

LaGrand was sentenced Monday by Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike to 15 years to life in prison, which is what McNicol had requested. With the first eligibility for parole in 15 years, even if he is released, LaGrand would be required to register as a Tier III sexual offender for the remainder of his life.

McNicol said both family members of the victims in the courtroom, as well as one victim who was present in court, indicated to him they were all in agreement with the sentence.

One mother of a victim made a statement in court reflecting how she felt completely betrayed and violated by the LaGrand, who had fooled everyone by impersonating a woman during the time she had known him.

For his part, LaGrand apologized and acknowledged his need for help.

In June, LaGrand had pleaded guilty to four of the seven charges brought by the county prosecutor’s office. He agreed to plead to rape, rape with an age specification, a count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and a count of importuning.

Those four charges represented the four children LaGrand was accused of having sexual relations with during those eight years. One of the charges involved a child less than 10 years of age, specifically between 6 and 7, and another between age 10 and 13. The other charges involved older teens.