A Delaware man agreed to plead guilty to lesser sex-offense charges Tuesday morning rather than face a jury trial on four rape charges.
George S. Cunningham, 49, formerly of 1040 Bunny Station Road, pleaded guilty to four counts of attempted gross sexual imposition, which are fourth-degree felonies, in connection with the sexual abuse of a juvenile. His jury trial was scheduled to begin in Delaware County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday.
The attempted gross sexual imposition charges are lesser offenses from the four rape charges Cunningham was originally charged with in November. The rape charges were first-degree felonies. He was also charged with gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony.
Judge David Gormley accepted the plea and scheduled Cunningham to appear in court for sentencing on Oct. 12 at 1:30 p.m.
Gormley also ordered a pre-sentence investigation.
As part of negotiations of a plea deal, prosecutors will recommend prison time but won’t recommend a specific number of months. Court documents indicate that Gormley is not required to follow any recommendations when considering sentencing.
Court documents indicate that Cunningham could be sentenced to between six to 18 months in prison for each charge and a fine of up to $5,000.
Cunningham will be registered as a Tier III sex offender and must report to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office on a regular basis. Gormley added that Cunningham will be subject to three years of post-release control if he is sentenced to prison and could be returned to prison if he violates the terms of the agreement.
The charge of gross sexual imposition was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Cunningham is alleged to have had sexual contact with a minor girl between February 2009 through August 2009, according to court documents. The grand jury indictment stated that he raped the victim four times between Sept. 29, 2010, and Sept. 28, 2011, and between Feb. 1, 2012, and Feb. 10, 2012.
The girl was expected to testify at during the trial, which was scheduled for four days.
Cunningham originally entered not guilty pleas to all the charges at his arraignment in November.
Judge Duncan Whitney, who retired at the end of 2014, had set bond for Cunningham at $1 million after being told by prosecutors that Cunningham frequently travels outside the country, specifically to Malaysia, and would flee the country if he had a chance. Whitney also took Cunningham’s passport to prevent him from leaving the county.
Cunningham has been in the Delaware County jail since his arrest on Nov. 10.