LISBON - Anthony Mehno, the Salem man convicted by a jury last month of raping a 15-year-old babysitter, was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday by Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike.
Mehno, 27, East Fourth Street, Salem, had reportedly climbed into bed with the sleeping girl, who awoke to find him in the process of having sex with her.
"You have changed my life forever," read a court victim's advocate from a written statement prepared by the girl. "I can't do anything other people my age are doing. I can't do anything without thinking about what you did to me."
She continued that Mehno had broken one of the 10 commandments, "Thou shalt not lie," adding she did not understand why he could not just tell the truth about what happened. She asked Mehno to consider how he would feel if something like this had happened to his stepdaughter.
The girl asked for the maximum sentence. Mehno had faced up to 10 years in prison and Assistant County Prosecutor Timothy McNicol had asked for nine years.
In addition to the seven-year sentence, Mehno will be expected to register his address every 90 days for the remainder of his life as a Tier III sexual offender. He will be on probation an additional five years.
Mehno continues to contend his innocence. He made no statement of apology before sentencing, instead pleading with Pike to consider his wife Ashley, 2-year-old son and 5-year-old stepdaughter.
"My family needs me," Mehno said. "I have faith in the system, but it was not what I would perceive as a fair jury trial."
When asked by Pike to explain his statement about the trial, Mehno said he believed an affidavit, which was disallowed by Pike, should have been made known to the jury. In the affidavit, which was attached to the pre-sentencing documents submitted to the court by his attorney Kenneth Lewis, the girl allegedly recanted her story.
According to the affidavit, the girl claimed she was not certain it was Mehno, both because she could not see his face and he appeared stronger and with more hair than Mehno. Additionally, she reportedly admitted to giving Ashley Mehno's underwear to the police, claiming it was her own. The affidavit was reportedly taken in July 2012 by Youngstown attorney Rhys Cartwright Jones, who was no longer handling the case prior to the jury trial.
Pike had disallowed the affidavit when no original notarized copy was available and after hearing conflicting testimony from several witnesses about how the affidavit was obtained.
Following sentencing, Mehno was denied a request to be allowed 72 hours in order to get his financial affairs in order for his wife. He was not in custody prior to the sentencing hearing, even after a jury found him guilty of rape, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and sexual battery.
Pike noted he sees a person sentenced to a felony as having a greater chance of running and was not ready to take the chance Mehno would fail to report.
Pike additionally denied a motion to place the sentence on hold pending an appeal Mehno is already in the process of filing through Lewis.
Despite Mehno paying for Lewis' services, Lewis filed a motion to have the transcripts from the trial prepared at the court's expense. Lewis said he had agreed to continue representing Mehno in the appeal process. Pike required Mehno to fill out a financial affidavit to see whether or not he would qualify.