GALLIPOLIS — A 10-years-to-life sentence was handed down this past week against a Gallia County man charged with sexually abusing two young girls.
Joshua J. Sparkman, 26, of Bidwell, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of rape, a first-degree felony, and one count of gross sexual imposition, a felony of the third degree. Following the entry of his guilty plea, Common Pleas Judge D. Dean Evans handed down to the defendant a life sentence with no eligibility of parole until after 10 years have been served for the charge of rape. An additional three-year sentence was handed down for the charge of gross sexual imposition — a sentence that must be served consecutively with the life sentence.
In addition, Sparkman will be classified as a Tier III sexually oriented offender as to the charge of rape and as a Tier II sexually oriented offender as to the charge of gross sexual imposition. Sparkman was further ordered to have no contact with the victims, identified in court records as Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2, for life. The victims were reportedly 10 years old and 11 years old, respectively, at the time of the abuse.
Following sentencing, Gallia County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Britt Wiseman, who handled the prosecution of this case and was present during the plea and sentencing hearing last week, stated that if not for the vigilance of teachers who observed the two victims following the period of abuse, the defendant might have gone unpunished.
“This entire case began with teachers at Rio Grande Elementary who noticed changes in the girls’ behavior and appearance. These teachers took the time to develop relationships with their students, which allowed these students to feel comfortable and safe enough around these teachers to disclose the sexual abuse they were experiencing at home,” Wiseman said. “These teachers and all teachers in Gallia County are to be commended for the work they do every day in looking after and protecting children in our community.”
An indictment in this case was initially filed April 10 following an investigation into this case. The indictment outlines two counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, four counts of gross sexual imposition and two counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles — charges that were filed following the continued abuse of Jane Doe No. 1 and No. 2 between Sept. 1, 2013, and March 26, 2014, according to the indictment.
Wiseman also reported that the continued actions of the suspect over the course of several months, as well as the young age of the victims, played a definite role in the life sentence handed down by the court in this case.
“Our office makes prosecution of child sex crimes a top priority,” Wiseman said. “We insisted on, and this defendant received, the maximum sentence permissible by Ohio law in receiving a life sentence in prison plus an additional three years. Further, this defendant is labeled as the highest level sex offender for the rest of his life. This defendant’s actions, coupled with the ages of the victims in this case, warranted the life sentence imposed by the court.”
Fellow Gallia County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Eric Mulford pointed to Sparkman’s prior record as the defendant previously served time in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for a similar charge, and soon after his release from prison in 2013, began to prey on the two victims in this case.
“This defendant is a repeat sexual offender based on a prior conviction in Meigs County in 2009 for gross sexual imposition in which this defendant served four years in prison. This defendant was released from prison in January 2013. The dates of sexual abuse involving these young girls began in September 2013. This defendant has shown that he cannot and should not remain out in the community and that the maximum prison term of life imprisonment is necessary to protect the public,” Mulford said.
Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins thanked the various agencies involved in this case, as their efforts aided the prosecution and helped to put together such a strong case against the defendant.
“These types of cases take cooperation and input from various agencies and law enforcement personnel. We would like to thank our staff at the prosecutor’s office, the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (Ohio BCI), Child Protection Center in Chillicothe, Gallia County Children’s Services, and school officials and teachers with the Gallipolis City Schools,” Adkins stated. “These agencies were instrumental in putting together a strong case for prosecution of this defendant and protecting these girls from further abuse.”
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Sparkman was remanded to the custody of the Gallia County Sheriff and will be transported to the appropriate state prison facility.
He was given credit for 127 days served and will be subject to a mandatory period of five years of supervision by the Adult Parole Authority following his release from prison.