Life sentence

A Marietta man who raped an 8-year-old girl and continued sexually abusing her for nearly four years received a life sentence Thursday with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

Phillip Edward Aaron Pruden, 33, formerly of 852 Greene St. Apt. 2, was sentenced Thursday by Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane.

Pruden’s most recent abuse against the girl happened in August, while he was out of jail on bond and awaiting sentencing in an unrelated unlawful sexual conduct case which involved sex with a 15-year-old female victim, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Jared Erb.

“So you’re awaiting sentencing on one charge, and you victimize someone else. This case is about as bad as it gets,” said Erb.

The younger victim did not come forward until after Pruden had officially been sentenced on the third-degree felony unlawful sexual conduct charge on Aug. 27.

An investigation into her allegation revealed that the sexual acts, which included intercourse and other types of sexual abuse, stretched back nearly four years to when the girl would have been 8 years old, said Erb. The acts were committed in Pruden’s bedroom and in an unfinished basement at his apartment complex, he said.

Pruden was indicted in November on five first-degree felony counts of rape and five second-degree felony counts of sexual battery against the girl.

He pleaded guilty Feb. 6 to a single first-degree felony count of rape which stipulated the girl had been less than 10 years old at the time.

The age stipulation meant the charge carried a more severe penalty-life with no parole for 25 years. If Pruden had pleaded to the most recent rape charge, occurring when the girl was 11, he would have been eligible for parole sooner.

Though Ohio’s sentencing statutes provided only one possible sentence for the charge-life with parole eligibility after 25 years-Erb reiterated in court why a life sentence was appropriate.

“The facts in this case are absolutely horrific. The child victim in this case endured a lot of sexual abuse,” he said. “This offender does need to be removed from society.”

Neither Pruden nor his attorney, Rolf Baumgartel, made a comment at sentencing.

Pruden’s quiet demeanor throughout the rape proceedings has been in stark contrast to the tears and apologies he proffered in the unlawful sexual conduct case less than a year ago.

His six-month jail sentence in that case ended in December, but Pruden has remained incarcerated on the rape charge.

Lane ordered that Pruden be classified as a Tier III sex offender with a child victim. The classification means Pruden will have lifetime reporting duties with in-person reporting required every 90 days if he does make parole. Pruden will be 58 years old when he is first eligible for release.