Jun. 24—LIMA — A Lima man accused of raping and sexually abusing three young girls was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday, concluding a two-day bench trial in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed found Matthew Smith, 35, guilty on 26 charges of rape, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition Thursday before sentencing Smith to life without parole.
Smith was initially indicted by an Allen County grand jury in November on 83 charges related to the abuse, but prosecutors dismissed 57 of the charges as the trial started Tuesday.
Victims testified in person and pre-recorded interviews earlier this week that Smith repeatedly abused them through anal rape, vaginal rape, molestation and forced oral sex.
Smith himself admitted to some of the sex acts in a recorded jailhouse interview played in court Wednesday, although he told the court at sentencing that he "didn't do any of this."
The girls were all under age 13 at the time and have reportedly suffered extreme psychological distress, impairing their desire to play outside, sleep over with friends or meet new friends, according to a victim statement read aloud in court Thursday.
The statement, prepared by a parent of the victims, asked the court to impose the harshest possible sentence.
"He caused them to lose their ability to trust," the parent wrote.
Because Smith waived his right to a jury trial, the verdict was decided by Reed, who proceeded to sentence Smith during the same hearing Thursday morning.
Smith, who has no prior felony record, was sentenced to life without parole for five of the 17 rape charges; 60 months for each of the four gross sexual imposition charges; 25 years to life for seven rape charges and 11 to 16.5 years for the remaining rape charges.
Smith must also register his address and employer every 90 days as a tier three sex offender, requiring him to notify law enforcement each time his address changes, and will be subject to post-release control should he be released.
Smith has 30 days to appeal.