A Plain City man has pleaded guilty to raping a young boy for eight years.
Gary L. Zornes, 52, of 230 1/2 North Ave. in the village, accepted an agreement to plead guilty to counts nine, 19, 24, 29 and 34 of the total of 34 charges filed against him.
These are, respectively, a first-degree felony of raping a child under the age of 13, a third-degree felony of sexual battery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and two fourth-degree felony charges of gross sexual imposition.
According to Assistant Ohio Attorney General Angela R. Canepa, the prosecutor for the case, the agreement gives Zornes a mandatory eight-year prison sentence for the rape charges. The other charges are to be served concurrently in a term of four years, which will be added to a mandatory eight years for a total of 12 years.
The four years are subject to judicial release, so Zornes could possibly serve eight and a half years of his sentence.
Upon release from prison, Zornes will also be required to register as a level three sex offender for the rest of his life and must verify with the local sheriff where he is living every 90 days. He will also be subject to mandatory five years of post-release community control. If he commits another felony while on probation, he could return to prison for another six years.
The crimes took place between 2007 and 2015 and began when the boy was 11 years old. Several counts include sexually violent predator specifications. The indictment details explicit acts Zornes performed on the boy.
The other 29 charges included more of the aforementioned crimes, as well as a count of kidnapping.
During the proceedings, Canepa read a statement written by the victim recalling how Zornes took him and other children on outdoor activities.
“Were they your next victims?” read Canepa. “I was afraid … of losing everything I had going for me. But that’s how you work isn’t it?”
The statement went on to say how Zornes dehumanized him and caused him to live in fear, which created problems in his social life and in school.
“I spent my entire childhood walking down the hall looking at fellow students, my friends, asking myself, ‘is this normal?’” the victim continued. “I’ll always remember what you said to me: ‘keep it to your grave, there’s no proof.’”
He mentioned that Zornes being sent to prison would give him some peace.
The victim also spoke during the proceedings, directly to Zornes.
“Gary, I just want to say you’re a coward, you’re sick, you need help and I will spend the next eight years thinking about the 34 crimes you’re charged with,” he said. “And you just spend the next eight years thinking of what you’ve done and I’ll spend the next eight years making sure you don’t touch another child.”
When asked by Judge Eamon Cotello for a statement, Zornes simply responded, “Sorry for all the trouble.”
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617 or on Twitter @MSFKwiat.
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