ELYRIA – Just before he was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison, Dennis Calhoun Jr. forgave Lorain County Common Pleas James Burge for finding him guilty of rape and gross sexual imposition.
“On my behalf, I want to say I forgive you,” Calhoun, 20, told Burge.
The judge convicted Calhoun of molesting a 6-year-old girl while he was babysitting her last summer. During the trial the girl, now 7, told Burge that Calhoun would take her into her room at her Amherst Township home and force her to perform oral sex.
Assistant County Prosecutor Tom Cahill said Calhoun also molested the girl’s then-4-year-old brother.
“He raped two babies,” Cahill said during Friday’s hearing.
Calhoun has maintained his innocence and said there are only three beings who know the truth of what happened.
“You, God and the children, what do the three of you know?” Burge asked.
“It wasn’t the truth,” Calhoun replied.
The girl’s mother tearfully told Burge that her daughter learned things from Calhoun she shouldn’t have known about until she was married.
“I know no matter what happens today, my daughter will never get her innocence back,” she said.
Dave Nehr, Calhoun’s attorney, said his client got the best sentence he could hope for under the circumstances. Nehr said Calhoun still has a chance at parole, but Burge could have given him life without that chance.
Calhoun, who has an unrelated cocaine conviction, isn’t the first member of his family to face serious criminal charges.
His father, Dennis Calhoun Sr., was released on parole in January after serving about 20 years on complicity to kidnapping and complicity to robbery in a brutal 1988 attack on a woman.
The elder Calhoun was the driver for Amos Lee – whose sentence on the rape, felonious assault and other charges he was convicted of could keep him behind bars until 2145 – when Lee kidnapped a woman from a Lorain store parking lot at gunpoint.
Lee then took the woman, who had been out shopping for Christmas cookie ingredients, to the deserted Old Elk’s Farm and beat her with a pistol while raping her. Lee was on parole for a previous rape conviction at the time.
Police and prosecutors said at the time that Calhoun Sr. assisted in the robbery and kidnapping, but didn’t realize Lee was beating and raping the victim.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.