Jacksonville man pleads guilty to raping disabled person

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A 50-year-old Jacksonville man pleaded guilty Wednesday to raping a disabled person.

Benjamin O’Hara was given a sentence of 18 to 37 years in prison on four counts of second-degree forcible rape against a person who was mentally disabled and four counts of incest.

He originally charged with 16 counts of second-degree forcible rape, 16 counts of incest and 16 counts of crime against nature, but the District Attorney’s Office said the state consolidated the dates of offense prior to trial given the victim’s limited capacity to articulate the number of times each act occurred.

The victim was 20 years old when she disclosed to one of her teachers about the abuse she had endured from the defendant between 2012 and 2015.

A jury was impaneled on February 5, 2018 and heard a full day of evidence from the state, including testimony from a school psychologist, the victim, child forensic interviewer, school teacher and school social worker before the defendant elected to change his plea from not guilty to guilty.

The defendant pled guilty to each charge on which the jury would have been asked to deliberate.

The state of North Carolina was represented by Assistant District Attorney Kaelyn Avery and the defendant was represented by Attorney Stuart Popkin of Jacksonville.

Judge Imelda Pate of Lenoir County sentenced O’Hara to active time in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction.

O’Hara received three consecutive sentences of a minimum of 73 months and a maximum of 148 months, resulting in an overall sentence of 219-444 months.

If he is released, he will be required to register as a sexual offender and subject to satellite-based monitoring for the remainder of his natural life.

He had no prior record.

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