With the sentencing of Greg Carter, Belmont County Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan reflected on an unprecedented string of jury trials in the last few months that saw the conviction of four child rapists and two individuals convicted in the largest methamphetamine trials in Belmont County history.
Flanagan first commented on the sentencing of Greg Carter who was convicted of rape of his two stepdaughters. He said that oftentimes the vulnerability of the child victim is a key reason for the abuse in these types of cases and the Carter case was no different. the child victim is a key reason for the abuse in these types of cases and the Carter case was no different. Flanagan said that the sentence imposed by Judge Fregiato ensures that Carter will never be released from prison.
When it comes to child sex abuse, Ohio’s sentencing laws give courts significant power to impose sentences to not only punish an offender like Carter but also to make sure that the person never does this to another child, said Flanagan. This sentencing power is needed by the courts to deal with crimes that I think all would agree are one of the most heinous types of offense, according to Flanagan.
Flanagan commented that “Even with the successful outcomes in these child rape trials, there is never satisfaction. According to him, a child has still been harmed in the worst way imaginable. A guilty verdict provides relief but little else. However, if there is any shining light, it is watching a child go from helpless victim to one that gains some control in a situation that many times seems hopeless. Merely by the child coming forward starts a transformation from “victim” to someone who is taking back their life, even at such a young age.”
Children in these scenarios often disclose inadvertently or occasionally when the situation becomes too overwhelming, according to Flanagan, and often the disclosure is delayed. “Kids find themselves in an unwinnable situation and it is very sad. They believe that they cannot confide in any other adults usually because of the close relationship that they have with their abuser. This is why they don’t immediately tell someone,” according to the prosecutor.
Flanagan said that the last four sex abuse trials all dealt with children that had some type of family relationship with the perpetrator or that the perpetrator was a close and trusted family friend. The trials involved a total of seven different victims. According to Flanagan, in one of those cases, the prosecutor’s office flew the victim and her mother across the country so that the young witness, who now lives out of state, would be able to confront her abuser.
As for the string of trials as of late, Flanagan attributes that to the aggressive approach of law enforcement.Flanagan added that his office also worked as a team in its approach to prosecuting these cases. “From the attorneys that comprised our trial team, to our administrative staff, to our victim advocate, we all worked toward a common goal and I could not be prouder of our office. Working together and with law enforcement as well as our child advocacy center known as Harmony House and the medical professionals involved in these cases is the only way that we can be successful in our efforts,” said Flanagan.
The prosecutor closed by saying that despite all of their efforts, we are reliant on the brave children who finally make disclosures that start the investigation. Without their ability to tell someone, even when it is just one of their little friends, we could never achieve these outcomes.