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The victim of a child sexual assault stood before the judge Tuesday with a statement about the man who had inappropriately touched her many times.

Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Miller read her written statement for her, aloud to Common Pleas Judge J. Craig Cox, because she was too overcome with tears to read it herself.

Ronald Lee Shaffer, 40, of Hickory Township pleaded guilty on July 23 to one felony count of indecent assault of a person younger than 13 and one count of indecent assault of a girl who was 14, regarding two separate victims. The case involving the 14-year-old was filed in 2018, and the case  involving the child, who was around 11 when the incidents occurred, was filed in February 2019.

The older victim was not in the courtroom yesterday but had been notified of Shaffer's sentencing date Tuesday, according to Miller.

Shaffer was sentenced Tuesday to 3 1/2 to 23 months in the Lawrence County jail, with credit for 334 days served. He also is ordered to be a permanent registrant as a sex offender under Megan's Law, and he must report to the state police of his whereabouts and any changes of addresses for the rest of his life.

"You really did hurt me," the female victim said in her statement. "You'll never understand the pain I went through.

"I'm too scared to look at you in your eyes," she said. "I hope you really learn what you did was wrong and that it really hurts."

Her mother, who was with her in the courtroom, said she is in agreement with the plea arrangement and she told the court that all she wants from Shaffer is an apology.

Shaffer, standing at the front of the courtroom, turned around and told them, "I'm sorry for everything I've done. It was the drugs and alcohol, and i'm not that type of person. I'm sober now, so that's a big plus."

Shaffer is being evaluated by the state as a sexually violent predator, but a determination has not yet been made because of changes in that law, Miller told the court. 

His jail sentence is to be followed by four years of supervised probation, and he is not allowed to be in contact with the victim directly, by a third party or through social media. Nor is he allowed to be in contact with any children.

If he is to be released from prison before his full jail term, his attorney must apply to the courts for his probation and the judge will make a determination.

Shaffer was represented in court by assistant public defender Bradley G. Olson.

Shaffer, who has an address on Village Lane initially had faced 150 charges filed by the state police after the child told police and forensic interviewers that he had touched her inappropriately below the waistline many times when she was between 10 and 12 years old.

The girl told authorities in a forensic interview that she was afraid to tell anyone about the incidents, according to the police report.

Shaffer, in a taped interview with police, denied any allegations of him touching the child, but he ultimately admitted to it, according to a criminal complaint. The incidents involving both girls occurred between 2017 and Thanksgiving of 2018, the report said.

The remainder of the charges against him in those cases were dismissed as a result of the plea bargain.

However, Shaffer still is facing charges from September when he was accused of threatening to kill a woman who was a witness against him in the cases.

A Lawrence County District Attorney’s detective filed one count of criminal attempt to intimidate a witness and three counts of criminal attempt at using terroristic threats with the intent to terrorize another against Shaffer. That case is still pending in the courts.

An investigator reported hearing the threats while listening to recordings of phone calls between Shaffer and another individual during his incarceration.

A criminal complaint spells out that Shaffer also had written a letter to someone, saying the woman “is not going to be anymore as soon as I see her.”

According to the court paperwork, Shaffer made statements about the phone and letter threats before a common pleas judge during a protection from abuse hearing.

dwachter@ncnewsonline.com

Reporter

Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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