Salem man seeks to withdraw guilty plea in child rape case

LISBON – Eric Holsinger, a Salem man accused of raping a mentally challenged 13-year-old boy at the Salem Memorial Building, asked his attorney to withdraw his guilty plea just minutes before his scheduled sentencing hearing on Friday.

Defense attorney Douglas King declined to comment on Holsinger’s reason for asking the motion be filed. Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Washam gave King until Aug. 30 to file the motion to withdraw the plea and the sentencing hearing was postponed for now. Assistant County Prosecutor Timothy McNicol was granted an additional week, until Sept. 6 in order to reply to King’s motion.

A hearing on the motions was scheduled for Sept. 20.

“It’s not unusual in these types of cases,” said McNicol, who handles a lot of the sexual-related cases at the courthouse.

In some cases, McNicol said the defendants go back to the county jail after pleading and talk to other inmates, who convince them they could have gotten a better deal if they had not pleaded or that they should have taken the case to trial.

In early July, Holsinger had pleaded to two first-degree rape charges, for which he faced up to 11 years in prison. The charges carried a mandatory prison sentence.

The initial charges in the original indictment included two additional counts of rape and two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Two of the charges involve the boy’s inability to resist due to his mental or physical condition.

The charges all involved the same 13-year-old boy, who Holsinger was reportedly found with in the restroom of the Salem Memorial Building during a free community dinner, the Banquet in Salem, on Dec. 10, 2012. One of the boy’s family members had become concerned when he did not return from the restroom and found him in a restroom stall with Holsinger in the stall next to him.