The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 10, 2012

Johnstown man convicted of raping 5-year-old girl

Sandra K Reabuck
sreabuck@tribdem.com

EBENSBURG — A 23-year-old Johns­town man was convicted by a Cambria County judge Wednesday of two felony counts of raping a 5-year-old girl early in 2011 at a Stonycreek Township home he was visiting.

Lee Kearns, of the 800 block of Central Avenue, faces two mandatory 10-year prison terms on the charges of raping a child.

Kearns, who had a nonjury trial before Judge Norman Krumenacker, also was was found guilty of five related offenses, including indecent assault. He was acquitted of two other counts.

The defendant, who was found legally competent to stand trial despite mental issues, did not take the stand in his own defense.

As he was taken from the courtroom to be returned to the county prison by sheriff deputies, he stuck his tongue out at Assistant District Attorney Tamara Bernstein, the prosecutor, and told township police Sgt. David Pollino, “I’d do it again.”

The victim, now 7 years old, used child’s terms as she described how Kearns sexually abused her on several occasions while they were playing a video game in her bedroom. She said that when she had trouble reaching a higher level on the game, he would help her only after pulling down their pants and getting on top of her.

Kearns told her “not to tell,” that it was a secret, according to testimony.

On the last time it happened on March 9, 2011, her father – who was home in a nearby room – became suspicious that Kearns had a “peculiar look” and went into the bedroom and found him on his daughter.

“I grabbed him, tossed him off her and told him to get the hell out and don’t come back.  I was in shock,” the father said.

The father recalled that Kearns kept saying, “I didn’t do nothing. I didn’t do nothing.”

Defense attorney John Kasaback attempted to raise questions about the evidence in closing arguments as he urged the judge to show mercy for a defendant with mental issues.

“We’re not dealing with a sophisticated criminal,” Kasaback said as he recalled that the bedroom door was left open and the girl’s father was in the residence.

“He’s not a person who really knows right from wrong,” the defense attorney said.

But Bernstein said that the defendant clearly knew he was doing something wrong when he told the girl “It’s a secret. Don’t tell.”

The prosecutor said that Kearns had “bartered” with the girl when she sought help with the video game by forcing her to submit to being sexually assaulted before showing her what to do on the game.

Afterward, Bernstein praised the young victim for “being brave and forthcoming, telling what had happened to her.”

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