LISBON - A Salem man thought better of withdrawing his guilty plea to charges he raped a 13-year-old mentally impaired boy in a restroom during a community dinner.
As a result, 52-year-old Eric S. Holsinger was sentenced Friday to 11 years in prison by Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Washam.
Holsinger originally pleaded guilty to two counts of rape in exchange for dismissal of four other charges of rape and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor as part of a plea deal reached with the county prosecutor's office, which recommended a 10-year prison sentence.
But just minutes before his Aug. 23 sentencing hearing, Holsinger told Washam he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea. The judge gave Holsinger's attorney until Aug. 30 to file a motion seeking to formally withdraw his plea, but defense attorney Doug King said yesterday that his client had changed his mind again and now wanted to go through with the plea deal.
Holsinger was asked if this was true and he said it was, but Washam noted Holsinger rolled his eyes when he posed the question to him, calling it a "whatever response." So Washam asked him again if he wanted to abide by the plea deal, and Holsinger replied that he did.
The crime occurred at the Salem Memorial Building on Dec. 10, 2012, during a monthly community dinner known as The Banquet that both were attending. Holsinger knew the boy and his family when he sexually assaulted him in the restroom. When the boy failed to return to the dinner, one of his relatives began looking for him and found him in a restroom stall and Holsinger in the next stall.
The boy's father briefly addressed Washam during Friday's hearing, telling him he believes Holsinger should get the maximum sentence of 11 years because of what he did to his son and "for the safety of any other child out there."
Washam agreed, telling Holsinger he had been warned before by Salem authorities about alleged inappropriate behavior but refused to stop, and the boy paid the price.
"Unfortunately, (the boy) has been put through something that no 13-year-old, let alone any person, should go through," he told Holsinger before sentencing him to 11 years in prison.
Holsinger received mandatory credit for 229 days spent in the county jail.