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County man found guilty of sex crimes

LISBON — An East Palestine man was found guilty of three crimes involving sexual acts with a young girl over a period of years.

Andrew Culler, 40, South Market Street, appeared in Common Pleas Court, Wednesday afternoon as Judge Scott Washam read his verdict from the non-jury trial held directly before Washam.

Washam went into details about the accusations of the child involving abuse that progressed, starting from around Jan. 1, 2010 when the child was 7 years old and continuing until July 10, 2016. Citing how the girl testified it started when she was young and did not realize it was wrong until she was older, but later was torn between keeping the secret and protecting someone else, Washam said he found the girl’s detailed story believable.

Washam also talked about the testimony of authorities she had spoken to, including the child advocate who interviewed her and testified the girl’s story was consistent with sexually grooming of a child.

Washam finally pointed out the girl’s testimony did not appear to embellish what had happened, even when she was given an opportunity.

Culler was found guilty of sexual battery and two counts of gross sexual imposition, all third-degree felonies. Each count could lead to a maximum five-year prison sentence and Culler will be required to register as a sex offender every 90 days for life.

His bond was revoked pending sentencing, which is scheduled for Oct. 29. One of Culler’s defense attorneys, Holly Hanni argued that Culler has always appeared for his hearings and that he has a family, a job and needed time to make arrangements before sentencing. Washam denied the request and Culler was immediately taken into custody.

Following the hearing, Danny Haueter, one of the two police officers from East Palestine who were involved in the case, commended both Assistant County Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones and Jennifer Tedrow, an investigator with the prosecutor’s office.

“Their dedication and efforts were instrumental in a successful prosecution leading to a conviction,” Haueter said.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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