By EILEEN MCCLORY
A Bluffton man, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, stared at the table in front of him Friday while the mother of his rape victim read a statement on behalf of her 5-year-old daughter in Hancock County Common Pleas Court.
“I forgive him for raping my daughter,” the woman said. “I do it not because he asks for it, but because my children and I are moving on.”
The daughter was not in court.
Johnathon W. Lamb, 37, of Bluffton, was accused of raping a child who was 4 years old at the time of the offense in February 2017. He pleaded guilty in June to two counts of rape, each a first-degree felony, and was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison.
When he leaves prison, he must register as a Tier III sex offender, the most serious offender status under Ohio law.
The victim’s mother cried as she read her court statement Friday.
Her daughter “is still trying to understand how he hurt her, and why it was not OK,” the victim’s mother said.
The Courier generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.
Several members of the audience also cried while listening to the statement.
Lamb also appeared to be moved by the woman’s statement. Lamb said the statement was “earth-shattering” for him.
“I let 10 seconds of bad choices ruin my entire life,” he said. “I am very sorry for the effects on others.”
Lamb had a “relationship of trust” with the child, said Common Pleas Judge Reginald Routson, who heard the case.
Routson told Lamb he believed the offense was more serious because of the nature of the relationship between Lamb and the girl when the offense occurred.
Lamb has destroyed the girl’s ability to trust adults, Routson said.
“She bears a burden that no child should ever have to bear,” Routson said.