Man gets five years on sex charges

LISBON – A Salem man convicted of having sexual relations with two teenage girls was sentenced by Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Washam to five years in prison on Thursday.

Mark E. Knight Jr., 27, North Ellsworth Avenue, previously had pleaded guilty to sexual battery and four counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

Assistant County Prosecutor Timothy McNicol, who asked for the five-year sentence, told Washam he believed the age of the victims and the trauma which Knight’s actions caused both physically and mentally to the young girls needed to be taken into consideration during sentencing.

Additionally, McNicol pointed out Knight was convicted of somewhat related misdemeanor crimes. He was charged with criminal trespassing after he reportedly went into Salem High School looking for one of the girls who was a victim in this case. He served 30 days in jail after pleading no contest to the charge in Columbiana County Municipal Court.

He also was convicted in municipal court with obstructing official business after he was found to be hiding a runaway teenager at a vacant apartment above his. He had told Salem police he did not know where the 14-year-old girl was when they came looking for her. The girl had been reported missing by her parents four days prior to her being located. Knight also served a 30-day jail sentence in that case.

In the case he in which he was being sentenced on Thursday, the sexual battery charge involved a then-13-year-old girl. The charge had been reduced from the initial charge of rape as part of a plea agreement.

Additionally, the four counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor were for activities with the 13-year-old’s then-14-year-old sister. Knight reportedly had sex with the girl on four occasions, including in two different homes and in an automobile parked in a driveway.

Prior to sentencing Knight said he knew there were a lot of people hurt by his actions, but he tried to tell the truth throughout.

“All I can say is I’m sorry,” Knight said.

McNicol said Thursday both the girls and their mother were in the courtroom, but they declined to give a statement other than telling him they agreed with the five-year recommendation.

Knight was credited with 258 days served and will be required to register as a Tier III sexual offender.

A sixth charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles for allegedly sending three photographs of his genitals to the 14-year-old girl by way of text message was dismissed at the sentencing hearing.