Victim testifies in rape hearing
SUNBURY - A 30-year-old woman with a learning disability told a county judge Monday that the man responsible for allegedly raping her in front of her 1-year-old niece destroyed her emotionally and should be given the maximum punishment under the law.
"I lost my innocence, felt degraded, have problems sleeping and I'm emotionally destroyed," the victim said in an impact statement read before President Judge William H. Wiest, who a short time later sentenced her alleged rapist, Kenneth Eugene Wertz, 49, of 4178 Upper Road, East Cameron Township, to 2 1/2 to 5 years in state prison.
The victim, who was 29 when Wertz allegedly sexually assaulted her Jan. 27, 2013, at a home they shared with the victim's mother, said, "I am embarrassed to communicate to people close to me about what happened. I was very upset when he said at first that it was consensual. It wasn't consensual. He raped me! He raped me in front of my 1-year-old niece!"
The victim, who became emotional as she read the statement, continued, "When I tried to call for help twice, I was hit in the face with the house phone he threw at me. I could have lost my eye because of the damage."
She said her family has suffered emotionally and physically since the incident.
"Someone we had lived with and trusted for 10 years tore me apart. Judge, I hope you see fit to give him the maximum sentence he deserves," she concluded.
Wertz, who had his legs shackled while sitting at the defense table, stared at the floor as the victim read her statement.
The victim's mother also requested Wiest to impose the maximum sentence for raping her daughter and putting her life in danger.
After sentencing, the victim's father stated, "I don't think he (Wertz) got what he deserved."
In addition to being sentenced to state prison on a felony of aggravated indecent assault, Wertz was ordered to serve two consecutive years of probation on a misdemeanor of simple assault. Wertz pleaded guilty to both offenses Oct. 21.
Two felony counts each of rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and an additional count of aggravated indecent assault were not prosecuted.
The charges were filed by Trooper David Townsend of state police at Stonington.
During an interview with police, Wertz admitted to raping the victim and hitting her in the eye with a phone, but claimed it was an accident.
The sentence imposed by Wiest was within the standard range. Wertz could have been sentenced to a maximum of 10 years if convicted of all the charges.
Wiest ordered Wertz to pay $200 in fines and various costs and prohibited him from having contact with the victim. Wertz also is required to register for life as a sexual offender, although he was deemed not to be a violent sexual predator.
Wertz was represented by assistant public defender Paige Rosini, who declined comment about her client's sentence.
First assistant district attorney Ann Targonski said, "This case was particularly difficult because of the limitations with the victim. The defendant took advantage of the trust that the victim and her mother had given him because he was a member of the household for 10 years."
Wertz was recommitted to the county jail to await transfer to a state correctional institution.