JACKSON — A former minister will spend the rest of his life behind bars for sexually assaulting two juveniles and one adult between 2009 and 2015.
Dennis Wright, 67, of Oak Hill, was found guilty by a Jackson County jury earlier this week of seven counts of rape, two counts of sexually battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and three counts of gross sexual imposition.
Wright was sentenced Thursday morning to life in prison by Jackson County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Regan. He most recently served as a minister for a small congregation on State Route 279 just outside of Oak Hill, where two of the victims were parishioners. He was first indicted Feb. 22 on the charges.
Wright was accused of assaulting the juveniles on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2015 and raping an adult female whose ability to resist or consent was substantially impaired, on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2010. He was also found to be a sexually violent predator and classified as a Tier III sex offender. Wright’s first parole eligibility will be in 44.5 years.
“Dennis Wright abused his position of trust. This sentence ensures that he will spend the rest of his life in prison because he will not be eligible for parole until he is well over 100 years old,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.
Wright was indicted on the charges in February after an investigation by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation found that the defendant sexually assaulted an adult parishioner and a juvenile parishioner. While investigating the case, authorities uncovered a third victim who, as a child, had also been sexually assaulted by Wright.
“Anyone who chooses to commit a crime of this nature in Jackson County will be investigated to the fullest,” Jackson County Sheriff Tedd Frazier said. “This case is an example of multiple organizations working together for the common goal of a safer community.”
The case was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section working as part of DeWine’s Crimes Against Children Initiative.