Man pleads guilty to five rape counts

LISBON — While wiping away some tears on Thursday, a Hanoverton area man pleaded guilty to five counts of rape involving a teenage girl.

Donny W. Knight, 44, Haessly Road, Hanoverton, was accused of having a sexual relationship with a now-16-year-old family member since she was 13 and a half. According to the court documents, Knight’s continuing course of conduct allegedly began in August 2013 and continued until June 2016, including several specific occasions in May and June of 2016.

The mother of the girl was in the courtroom on Thursday, and Assistant County Prosecutor Timothy McNicol said she was in favor of the felony plea agreement, with Knight pleading guilty to the rape charges only. Those charges were first-degree felonies.

McNicol said he will request an additional five counts of sexual battery, third-degree felonies, be dismissed as part of the plea agreement. The sexual battery charges involved the same victim and the same activities, McNicol said.

McNicol will ask for a 13-year prison sentence at the hearing on Aug. 10.

In the meantime, Knight will remain in custody at the Columbiana County Jail. He was granted the right to see two children, a 14-year-old son and a younger child. The mother agreed to allow the children to come to the jail with another family member to see him before the sentencing hearing. He will be given up to an hour to visit with them.

Although Knight thanked her from across the courtroom, the mother said she did not do it for him, just the children.