By Shelley Grieshop
A St. Marys man was sentenced to life in prison for raping a child and also faces further incarceration for the rape of three other children.
James R. Thaxton Jr., 49, formerly of 216 S. Vine St., pleaded guilty to four counts of rape following a plea agreement late Tuesday afternoon with the Auglaize County Prosecutor's office. Seven other rape charges -- including three that also carried the possibility of life sentences -- were dismissed in the plea bargain.
Thaxton was sentenced Tuesday on only one of the four first-degree felony counts of rape. Common Pleas Court Judge Frederick Pepple wants to review a victim's impact statement and presentence investigation report before deciding whether to run the remaining three sentences concurrently or consecutively, Auglaize County Prosecutor Ed Pierce said.
Pepple explained to Thaxton in court that, although he's eligible for parole after 10 years of the life sentence, it is not a guarantee. The possibility of parole rests with the opinion of the Ohio Parole Authority.
Thaxton faces a maximum 10-year prison term on each of three remaining rape charges. If Pepple chooses consecutive sentences, Thaxton would not be eligible for parole for 40 years. Thaxton faced life in prison on four of the 11 rape counts because some of the victims were under 10 years old and others were younger than 13, and force was used, Pierce said for an earlier story.
During Tuesday's hearing, Thaxton also was labeled a sexual predator, the most serious of the sexual offender classifications, and will be required to register his address with the local sheriff's office for the rest of his life.
According to reports from the St. Marys Police Department and court records, Thaxton raped the children in his home between Nov. 1, 2004, and Jan. 30, 2006. One of the victims was just 10 years old and all were under the age of 18. Two of the victims were determined to be mildly retarded.
The investigation by the St. Marys Police began following a tip from another county agency, Police Chief Greg Foxhoven said.