WOODSTOCK – A Front Royal man accused of rape avoided jail time by pleading guilty Wednesday to a lesser charge of consensual sex with a minor.
Bradley Russell Rich, 20, of 407 E. Criser Road, appeared in Shenandoah County Circuit Court where he stood charged with raping a 15-year-old girl on May 29, 2017. Rich faced a jury trial on the charge scheduled for Feb. 20. He ppeared in the court Wednesday for a hearing on potential pre-trial motions.
However, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Austin Hovermale and Rich’s lawyer Michael Araj reached a plea agreement prior to the hearing. Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley appeared for Hovermale and presented the plea agreement to Judge Dennis Hupp.
The agreement called for Rich to plead guilty to the amended indictment charging him with having consensual sexual intercourse with the 15-year-old girl, a Class 1 misdemeanor. The deal called for the court to sentence Rich to 12 months in jail and to serve six months of that term provided the defendant remain on good behavior during his incarceration awaiting trial. Araj told Hupp that Rich already spent six months in jail. Hupp said Rich would then be released that day once he returned to the jail.
Hupp accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Rich to 12 months in jail with all but six months suspended. Hupp said it appeared Rich already served the time. The judge imposed a $1,000 fine but suspended the entire amount and ordered Rich to pay court costs. Rich also must have no contact with the victim, Hupp said.
Wiseley provided a proffer of the evidence her office would have presented had the case gone to trial. A deputy with the Sheriff’s Office received a report on May 29, 2017, of a suspected rape, Wiseley told Hupp. The deputy met with the girl and her mother and the alleged victim said she went to a campground in Shenandoah County with Rich and at some point the couple engaged in sexual intercourse. Information provided to the deputy indicated the sex was not consensual, Wiseley said.
The girl said she and Rich showed up to the campsite together. The girl’s mother gave her permission to stay with the campers, Wiseley said.
Several witnesses at the camp later swore in affidavits that the girl never appeared upset after the sexual encounter, Wiseley said. The girl adamantly denied the sex was not consensual, she added.
Araj added that a witness also told a law enforcement officer that the girl told her she wanted to have sex with Rich. A family friend of the girl asked her if she had been raped and the girl said no, Araj said.