MARIETTA - A Marietta man accused of fostering a relationship and having sex with a 15-year-old girl last year was sentenced Tuesday to six months in the Washington County Jail.
Phillip Edward Aaron Pruden, 33, of 852 Greene St., Apt. 2, was sentenced on a third-degree felony count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
Investigators became aware of Pruden's involvement with the girl after she revealed to a counselor that she had lost her virginity to a man in his 30s, said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.
Marietta resident Phillip Pruden, right, sits with attorney Rolf Baumgartel Tuesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court as he is sentenced to six months in the Washington County Jail for engaging in sex with a 15-year-old girl. (Photo by Jasmine Rogers)
Pruden's attorney Rolf Baumgartel argued there were mitigating factors surrounding Pruden's case that made him a good candidate for community control.
"I'm aware that prison sentences are usually imposed in sex offense cases, but if ever a case were appropriate to sentence to community control, obviously with some local incarceration, this would be the one," said Baumgartel.
Among other things, Pruden has mental health issues ranging from bipolar disorder to attention deficit disorder, said Baumgartel.
"This is a case of someone operating on an mental and emotional level below his age," he said.
There was evidence the girl's family approved of the relationship, with the family dropping her off at Pruden's residence on more than one occasion, said Baumgartel.
Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane said the reports corroborated that.
"They were dating and her family represented that she was 18," noted Lane.
Schneider admitted that the victim's sister presented the girl as an adult at first.
However, "there is evidence that at least by the time they had sex he knew she was 15," said Schneider.
The girl, now 16, alleged three sexual encounters happened between late June to early August 2012. Pruden was initially indicted on three unlawful sexual conduct charges in March when the allegations came to light.
Pruden admitted to a single sexual encounter and eventually pleaded to a single third-degree felony charge.
Pruden told Lane he was remorseful and worried about his fate.
"I'm scared and I'm worried about my mother back there," said Pruden, adding that his mother has health problems.
She left the courtroom crying as he spoke.
Pruden will be required to register as a tier 2 sex offender with a child victim upon his release from jail. The classification requires him to report in person every six months for 25 years.
He will be required to complete a term at the SEPTA Correctional Facility after his jail term and will be required to undergo evaluation for the court's "Thinking For A Change" program, a cognitive behavioral change program developed by The National Institute of Corrections.
Pruden faced a maximum five years in prison on the charge and will get credit for 60 days incarceration.