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Local News

November 3, 2010

Charges filed in local child rape case

Alleged incidents date back to 2007

GROVE CITY — Police apprehended a man in Ohio last week to face charges that he sexually assaulted a child in Mercer County between 2007 and 2009.

Daniel Keith Dennis, 37, was arrested last week by authorities in Columbus in response to an arrest warrant by Sharon police, said Trooper Troy Owen, state police in Jackson Township.

Once Dennis is extradited to Mercer County, “I’ll serve a warrant on him” for charges in Grove City and Pine Township, Owen stated.

Charges by state police and Sharon authorities are the result of sexual crimes committed against a 6- or 7-year-old girl by Dennis, who was the boyfriend of the girl’s mother from December 2007 to the summer of 2009, Owen said.

During that time, the mother and Dennis had lived together in locations in Grove City, Pine Township and Sharon, according to an affidavit filed at Judge Neil McEwen’s district office in Pine.

Dennis ordered the little girl to engage in various sexual acts with him--and performed acts on her--when her mother was in the shower, it said. He also exposed her to pornography involving adults with children, the affidavit added.

The girl made comments which led her mother to suspect that her child was being abused, the trooper said. “There’s no evidence to indicate that (the mother) knew about it and she took appropriate action.”

The mother broke up with Dennis, and reported him to authorities, he said.

The girl was physically examined at St. Vincent Health Center in Erie in August 2009, at which point tears and scars were found in her anus, the affidavit said.

“These tears could not have been caused by natural or medical reasons or by accident and the injuries were most likely from a sexual assault or by object(s) being placed in her anus,” the affidavit stated.

For her to have the level of understanding of the sexual acts at her age was further proof abuse had occurred, the affidavit added. The girl was reluctant to talk to law enforcement at length, so she received counseling for a year, it said.

“After a year, she was more willing to talk, and we developed the case to file charges,” Owen stated.

The girl was given a forensic interview and exam through the Child Advocacy Center in Youngstown on Sept. 4, the affidavit said.

During a videotaped interview, the girl was asked if she knew why she was there, and she replied that it was because she was “raped,” it added.

The affidavit noted that, “Mercer County Children and Youth Services have received complaints from other victim(s) in the past ... of the accused having had the similar sexual contact with other children.”

Owen said he did not want to discuss this further, as Dennis had not even been interviewed about the current charges.

However, police will investigate further into the possibility that Dennis had harmed other children, he said. “It’s a routine thing to do.”

Charges were filed at McEwen’s office and district Judge Dennis Songer’s Sharon office on Sept. 27 before Dennis was found in Columbus last week. He is being held there by Ohio authorities pending extradition, Owen said.

Sharon police’s charges at Songer’s office against Dennis include two counts each of rape of a child, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault of a child younger than 13, video exposure, sexual assault, corruption of minors, obscene and other sexual material and sexual abuse of children.

State police’s charges at McEwen’s office include two counts each of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault and indecent assault.

Most of the charges filed are felonies, with the rape, aggravated indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse charges being felonies of the first degree, according to court records.

Crimes against children are one of the toughest situations to handle for police.

“You wonder how someone can do something like that,” Owen said. However, “If we can make an arrest on a case like this, it’s rewarding.”

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