Life in prison for sex with pre-teen girl

A Marietta man accused of having an ongoing sexual relationship with a pre-teen girl pleaded guilty to rape Thursday in Washington County Common Pleas Court and will receive a life sentence.

Phillip Edward Aaron Pruden, 33, of 852 Greene St. Apt. 2, admitted that he had engaged in sexual actions with the girl between June and November of 2011, before the girl was 10 years old.

At his preliminary hearing on the case in October, the victim’s guardian testified that the girl had admitted to three to four occasions of sexual impropriety.

He was eventually indicted on 10 counts-two each for five occasions.

Pruden pleaded guilty to a single first-degree felony count of rape and in exchange four additional first-degree felony rape charges and five second-degree felony sexual battery charges were dismissed.

The single first-degree felony rape charge comes with only one possible penalty-a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years, said Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane.

Pruden was incarcerated on a six-month sentence for a third-degree felony count of unlawful sexual conduct with a different 15-year-old girl when the relationship with the now 12-year-old girl came to light in September, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Jared Erb.

“In talking to Marietta Police Patrolman Katie Warden, the child was able to recount the encounter in explicit detail,” said Erb.

Additionally, Pruden admitted to a sexual relationship – though not specifically sex -to his mother during recorded phone calls from the jail, he said.

The sexual encounters happened in the bedroom and basement of Pruden’s residence, said Erb.

Lane noted that Pruden’s guilty plea could be seen as a violation of community control in the first unlawful sexual conduct case and could result in mandatory additional prison time.

However, because the charge to which Pruden pleaded happened in 2011-well before Pruden was sentenced to jail and community control in the first case-it should not be considered a violation, said Pruden’s attorney Rolf Baumgartel.

Pruden, who cried at both his initial sentencing and his preliminary hearing on the new case, remained mostly emotionless during his change of plea. He sometimes hung his head, then matter-of-factly answered questions and admitted to sexual acts with the girl.

When Lane asked if Pruden does or ever did suffer from mental illness, he simply answered “Yes.”

At Pruden’s August sentencing on the unlawful sexual conduct charge, Baumgartel said his client suffered from a variety of mental health problems ranging from bipolar disorder to attention deficit disorder.

Pruden’s sentence on the unlawful sexual conduct charge ran out in December. However, he has remained incarcerated in the Washington County Jail pending a $100,000 bond.

His sentencing on the rape charge is scheduled for March 20 at 8:15 a.m.