Original article written by Stephanie Stanley, Assistant Editor of the Pike County News Watchman 

Clinton Rutherford, 42, of Mutton Run Rd, Chillicothe, opted to waive a jury trial and faced Pike County Court of Common Pleas Judge Randy Deering during a bench trial on Monday, March 6th, and Tuesday, March 7th. At the end of the trial, Rutherford was found guilty and convicted of Gross Sexual Imposition and Rape of a Child Under 10 years of Age.

“We had him (Rutherford) set for a jury trial this week,” said Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk. “This almost never happens, but Rutherford decided to waive a jury at the last minute last week and decided he just wanted tried by the judge”

According to Junk, the charge of Gross Sexual Imposition could result in a prison term of five years, while the charge of Rape of a Child Ten Years and Under could result in a possible sentence of life without parole.This victim was seven years old at the time of the incident which occurred around October to early November 2015, said Junk.

Rutherford’s victim was a seven-year-old female. Junk states that Children Services “did a huge amount of work” on the case, led by investigator Holly Wiggins and staff attorney Liz Howard. Major Tracy Evans, of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office, conducted three interviews with Rutherford, resulting in crucial ¬†evidence in the case.

“The third time he (Evans) interviewed Rutherford, he was able to get a statement out of him. He backtracked off of that, and when he ended up taking the stand, he said that everything he had told Major Evans was a lie,” said Junk. “the attorneys tried to argue legal arguments, arguing that our little victim’s statement to the counselor shouldn’t have come in, but I was able to find a case in the Tenth District Court of Appeals that states that that kind of information is allowable for purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment. We didn’t have our victim testify, for obvious reasons. We never want to re-traumatize a child if we can keep from it.”

Taking the stand during the trial were Major Tracy Evans, Dr. Jetty, Holly Wiggins (Children Services) and Brittany Bakenhaster (The counselor who had been treating the victim).

“We also ended up calling the first foster mother of our victim as well, and her statements actually helped us because we were able to get information from her where the child had disclosed what Rutherford had done to her, ” said Junk.

The trial would have lasted longer had there been a jury, said Junk.

“When they waived the jury, we had to reorganize and move our witnesses around,” Junk said. “As soon as closing arguments were over, Judge Deering found him guilty right then and there. He didn’t hesitate a bit.” The charges of Gross Sexual imposition and Rape of a Child Ten Years and Under “merge for sentencing purposes,” said Junk,who explained that Gross Sexual Imposition is “touching a victim in a sexual manner”, while Rape is “actual sexual misconduct.”

“Judge Deering ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and wants to look a bit more into the background of this guy. One of the things he asked for was well, which Liz Howard at Children Services is helping with, is a Victim Impact statement regarding how this incident has impacted our little victim” said Junk. “It will probably be three or four weeks before we have a sentencing hearing. But it is our intent to recommend life without parole.”

Rutherford has a prior felony conviction out of Brown County, says Junk, and served eight years in prison for his conviction.

“He was originally charged with Aggravated Murder. They let him plead guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter, and he had and Aggravted Burglary along with that, and he went to the penitentiary for that charge,” said Junk. “He has gone from being involved in someones death to now raping a seven-year-old little girl.”

Junk says he was quite bothered by the case while preparing for trial.

“This is one of the most evil things I have seen in a while, and I’ve seen some pretty bad stuff through the years” said Junk. “This child will never be the same, and that’s what Judge Deering is concerned about, too- her present condition and her well being. What really won the case for us is that Children Services really put their case together well, Dr. Jetty and Child Protection Center did a good job with their investigation and documentation of the little girl’s physical injuries, and the most important piece of evidence was the statement that Major Evans got from him.”

The statement obtained by Major Evans “pretty much won the case,” said Junk.

“I’m surprised he said anything, but Evans had everything in a row and got a statement out of him,” said Junk.

The trial, Junk says, is a “good illustration of what can happen when everyone works together.”

“Children Services put in a huge amount of time working this case, as did the Child Protection Center and the Pike County Sheriff’s Office. Major Tracy Evans did a great job on this case and helped us to win the case,” said Junk. “With a case like this we couldn’t have gotten a conviction without everyone working together. Everyone pitched in, and we got the result we did because of it. Our little victim is now in a safe place and, hopefully, she will never have to worry about Clinton Rutherford in her life again.”