Saturday, April 28th, 2007
New Bremen man sentenced to maximum for molesting woman
By Shelley Grieshop
WAPAKONETA - A New Bremen man who served as a job coach for a mentally-impaired woman will spend 111/2 years in prison - the maximum allowed by law - for raping and sexually molesting her last year.
William E. Land, 25, 32 Meadowview Terrace, also was labeled a sexual predator during court proceedings Friday in Auglaize County Common Pleas Court. Upon release from prison, he is required to register his address every 90 days with the county sheriff for the rest of his life.
Land in February confessed to charges of rape, a first-degree felony, and gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony. Recently he recanted his guilt to his probation officer and a psychologist before changing his mind and admitting his guilt on Friday.
Land's victim was a 38-year-old woman who is a client in the Auglaize County Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MR/DD) work program. She reportedly told her family about the incidents and they immediately contacted authorities.
The victim was described in court as having the mental ability of a fourth-grader and the verbal ability of a 4-year-old. Land, who worked as a supervisor for the MR/DD program, was responsible for transporting groups of MR/DD adult clients to and from job sites.
Land sexually assaulted the woman during a cleaning assignment in a locker room at the Auglaize County Law Enforcement Center in Wapakoneta in October, and when alone with her in a vehicle along a rural roadway between St. Marys and New Bremen in July after leaving her job at Taco Bell.
Land, who reportedly is married and has children, was hired by the Auglaize County MR/DD agency in July 2005. When he first applied for the job in 2005, he failed a drug screen by testing positive for a "trace" of marijuana, MR/DD Superintendent Al Willis told The Daily Standard. Land - like all applicants - was required to wait 90 days to be re-tested. He later did re-test and passed, Willis explained.
Land's attorney, William Kluge of Lima, explained that his client denied the crimes after previously pleading guilty because he took advice from his cell buddies.
"He got a lot of bad advice like 'Don't admit to anything' from his bunk mates," Kluge told the court. "He was convinced it was the right thing to do."
Kluge said Land shows great remorse for his actions and accepts all responsibility. "He's ready to go to prison," he added.
Land apologized to the court for causing confusion concerning his plea.
Auglaize County Prosecutor Ed Pierce asked the court for the maximum sentence for Land, who at one point blamed the victim because she "came to him." Land also stated to investigators that his rocky relationship with his wife and the thought of that relationship ending, led him to commit the offenses in order to get sent to prison, Pierce told the court.
"She took great pride in her job and this defendant stole that from her," Pierce added. "He didn't just violate her physically but he violated her emotionally, too."
Pierce said the object of Land's sentence shouldn't be rehabilitation, but punishment for his crime.
Land attempted to explain his actions when asked by Pepple.
"I realize what I did was wrong. At the time I showed poor judgment," he said, adding he thought he had her 'blessing' to proceed with sexual advances toward her. "I realize now she didn't have that capability."
Before sentencing, Pepple called Land selfish and said he violated the trust of the victim, her family and the organization that hired him.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Pierce told The Daily Standard he felt the prison term was a just and fitting end to "Victims Rights Week," being observed this week across the country.
Willis, upon hearing the prison term, said he felt justice had been served. He commended the sheriff and prosecutor's offices, his staff and everyone who professionally handled the matter.
"I hope the family now can move forward," he said, adding the victim is doing fine.