The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 7, 2013

Rapist sentenced to 10-20 years, supervision for life

EBENSBURG — A 23-year-old Johnstown man was handed a sentence that will have him serving years behind bars and then years under supervision by parole officers for the rest of his life for raping a 5-year-old girl in early 2011 in Stonycreek Township.

Lee Kearns III of the 800 block of Central Avenue was sentenced Monday by Judge Norman Krumenacker to 10 to 20 years in state prison and then a consecutive 32 years on probation.

Kearns, who has mental health issues, was convicted of two felony counts of rape of a child and five related offenses in a nonjury trial before Krumenacker in October.

Although Assistant District Attorney Beth Penna asked for a prison term of 20 to 40 years, the judge imposed only one of the 10- to 20-year mandatory terms on the rape charges.

Krumenacker said that by doing so, he could ensure that Kearns would have a long supervisory period on probation because he will need extensive monitoring once he gets out of prison.

“The total sentence is extreme­ly long and will take you into your 70s,” the judge told him.

Kearns, classified as a Megan’s law sex offender, will have to register his address once he leaves prison with the state police for the rest of his life, the judge said. However, the defendant was not determined to be a sexually violent predator under state guidelines, it was noted.

The victim, now 7 years old, described how Kearns sexually abused her several times while they were playing a video game in her room. She said that when she had trouble reaching a higher level on the games, he would help her only after pulling down her pants and getting on top of her. He told her not tell anybody and to keep it a secret, she testified.

The last time such an incident occurred was when the girl’s father discovered Kearns in her room.

Penna said that Kearns bribed the girl to get what he wanted, despite his mental issues. “He understood what he was doing was wrong,” Penna said.

Krumenacker told Kearns, “While you’re a man physically, you're just a child (mentally). Clearly, you do know right from wrong and that sexual activity with a child is wrong.”

The judge added, “I believe you are a threat to others, and I believe you need extensive incarceration and extensive therapy. You have to be supervised for the rest of your life.”

Chief Public Defender Ryan Gleason said after the hearing that a decision has not been made on whether an appeal will be filed.

Kearns’ mother asked the judge for the lowest prison term possible. She said her son’s situation is an example of how the mental health system failed. She said she had sought help for him since he was 10 years old.

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