A Delaware man who pleaded guilty to attempting to molest a young girl was sentenced to 18 months in prison Monday afternoon in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.
George S. Cunningham, 50, formerly of 1040 Bunny Station Road, was in court Monday to be sentenced on four counts of attempted gross sexual imposition, which are fourth-degree felonies, by Judge David Gormley.
Cunningham originally was indicted by a grand jury on four first-degree rape charges. He agreed to plead guilty to the lesser included charges.
Cunningham was credited for the 326 days he has already spent in the Delaware County Jail since his arrest in November 2014.
Cunningham has maintained his innocence and said he agreed to plea to the lesser offenses because they carried no mandatory prison time and to spare the victim from having to testify at trial.
As part of the plea deal, the county prosecutor’s office said it would recommend Cunningham be sentenced to prison but would not offer a number of months.
Cunningham’s attorney, Michael Hogue, said Cunningham would be an ideal candidate for a community control sentence. Hogue said Cunningham is not likely to re-offend because he only wants to be with his newborn son.
Assistant prosecuting attorney Eric Penkal told the judge that Cunningham deserves prison because the victim — 9 years old at the time — trusted him and he violated that trust. Penkal said the victim has lasting psychological damage and is in counseling.
Gormley said that, after considering the statements from both parties, he decided to sentence Cunningham to 18 months in prison for three of the attempted gross sexual imposition counts. Gormley specified that the prison sentences will be served concurrently.
Cunningham will also be subject to five years of post-release control and will be registered as a tier 2 sex offender for the next 25 years.
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.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.