Salem man faces additional sex charges

LISBON – More charges were issued by the Columbiana County grand jury this week against the Salem man accused of having unlawful sexual conduct with a 14-year-old girl.

Mark E. Knight Jr., 26, North Ellsworth Avenue, was served an indictment on charges of rape, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles and four counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Knight was already in custody in the jail awaiting a preliminary hearing on one of the counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor when the additional charges were added.

According to court documents, Knight is accused of forcing sexual conduct with one female in the fall of 2012. Assistant County Prosecutor Tim McNicol said the rape charge, which carries a possible 11-year sentence, was with a 13-year-old girl.

Additionally, he is accused of having sexual conduct with a then 14-year-old girl in the basement of a home in the fall of 2012 on four occasions. Finally, he is accused of disseminating harmful materials with the same girl in February 2013. McNicol said that charge relates to materials he gave or showed the girl.

The preliminary hearing in Columbiana County Municipal Court, which was scheduled for Thursday, is currently scheduled for Monday, but McNicol said that charge is the same as one of the unlawful sexual conduct charges included in the indictment.

The rape charge is a first-degree felony, while the four unlawful sexual conduct with a minor charges are third-degree felonies. The disseminating charge is a first-degree misdemeanor.

There has been only one charge of obstructing official business against Knight involving a runaway 14-year-old girl found hidden recently in an upstairs apartment above Knight’s apartment. Knight pleaded no contest in Municipal Court to that charge and was sentenced to 30 days in jail with a $150 fine. McNicol said that incident remains under investigation.