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January 17, 2013

Defendant pleads to indecent assault

SOMERSET — An Ohio man entered a plea in Somerset County court to sexually assaulting a girl during a four-year period.

William Walter Walters, 57, of West Union, Ohio, pleaded guilty Thursday before President Judge John M. Cascio to one count of indecent assault.

The plea, approved by the victim’s family, came as prosecutors were preparing for trial.

“Everyone was on board, including the family,” District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said. “It spares the victim from having to testify.”

Walters had been charged with five counts of incident assault. He was accused of sexually assaulting the girl between 2001 and 2004, beginning when she was 5, at a residence on East Race Street in Somerset.

Defense attorney Joseph Policicchio of Somerset said his client entered an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not admit an act but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge.

“He’s not admitting guilt,” Policicchio said.

The plea acknowledges the strength of the prosecution case, which might result in conviction, he said.

Walters faces up to five years in state prison when he is sentenced April 11.

Walters is the same man who was involved in a 2003 shooting in Shade Township. He shot a 26-year-old Hooversville man outside a trailer along Weigle Road following an all-night party in a rural area.

Walters was sentenced in April 2006 to serve 15 months to six years in state prison in that case.

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