A Perrysburg man has been sentenced to prison for his actions involving a 5-year-old child.

Robert J. Ford, 50, appeared Friday in the courtroom of Wood County Common Pleas Judge Matt Reger.

Ford was indicted in December for rape, a first-degree felony offense, and two counts of gross sexual imposition, both third-degree felonies. Ford is accused of committing the crimes between Jan. 1, 2019 and Nov. 1, 2019.

He accepted a deal where he pleaded guilty to the two charges of gross sexual imposition with the charge of rape amended to gross sexual imposition as well.

Defense attorney Lorin Zaner said this has been a very contested case, his client had passed a polygraph, had never been in trouble before and was not considered a risk to the community.

“The charges and the allegations are very serious,” Zaner said.

He said the child’s mother did not want Ford to go to prison because it would be difficult for the family and the child. Ford is the primary caregiver of his wife, who has physical difficulties, Zaner said.

Zaner asked for community control. He asked that if the judge imposed a jail term, to also add work release.

“We don’t believe prison is necessary,” Zaner said.

Wood County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Pamela Gross said Ford has denied he has denied doing anything wrong.

The victim, a family member, was 5 at the time of the offenses.

Ford has blamed the victims, Gross said.

While people can say he is a hard-working man and be a responsible man in society, he can also be a sexual abuser, she said.

Reger said he read the 20 letters of support submitted on behalf of the defendant.

Gross asked for four years on each charge, for 12 years total.

Ford said he takes full responsibility for his actions. He said he feels remorse and that this past year has been a nightmare.

Reger said he has to look at punishing the defendant and protecting the public.

“I don’t know if there is anything more serious that this offense,” Reger said.

He said Ford must register as a Tier II sexual offender, requiring him to register in person every 180 days for 25 years.

The seriousness of the crime was exacerbated by the age of the victim and that she was family, Reger said.

Reger sentenced Ford to 36 months in prison for each of the three charges, to be served consecutively, for a total of nine years. He will be placed on post-release control upon his release from prison.

Family members in the courtroom sobbed as Ford was led away.

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