"These cases are difficult," Lycoming County President Judge Nancy L. Butts said Monday morning before sentencing a city man to four to eight years in state prison for the rape of a then 17-year-old girl in March 2010.
Nineteen-year-old Abraham George Edwards, who listed a 721 High St. address at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty earlier this year to felony counts of rape by forcible compulsion and criminal conspiracy to engage in rape by forcible compulsion.
According to court records, the victim told city police that Edwards led her to the darkened basement of his High Street home where he and another juvenile male sexually assaulted her.
The victim told Edwards to "get away from me" before she was able to leave the house.
In a statement provided to the court, the victim said she has become afraid to go out alone, has sought counseling, has drawn away from other people and cannot sleep at night.
The victim, who at one time was friends with Edwards, asked for him to be punished accordingly.
Edwards, who was one of the victims of the shootings in December, acknowledged what he did and was ready to accept responsibility for his actions.
"I apologize. I made a mistake," he said. "I'm really sorry for what I did."
Edwards' father, Harvey Edwards Jr., spoke on his son's behalf and asked the judge to be "merciful."
"Not a day has gone by that he has not regretted what he did," Edwards' father said.
Lori Rexeroth, Edwards' attorney, argued for a shorter state prison sentence in light of Edwards' lack of a prior record and his willingness to accept responsibility.
"Abe made a huge mistake. This has been an aberration in his life," Rexeroth said. "State prison is not an atmosphere that will be beneficial to him."
Aaron Biichle, assistant district attorney, asked Butts to uphold the plea agreement of four to eight years in state prison.
"Four to eight is an appropriate sentence," Biichle said.
Butts agreed and described the plea agreement as an "appropriate plea agreement" before sentencing Edwards to four to eight years in state prison.
While Edwards was not determined to be a sexually violent predator, requiring lifetime registration as a sexual offender, Edwards will have to register with state police for 10 years after his release from prison in accordance with Megan's Law.
Butts did not sentence Edwards to a period of supervision after his incarceration believing state prison would serve as a deterrent to committing another crime.
"I believe after this experience you won't be back before the court," she told Edwards before the Sheriff's Department took him into custody.