WOODSTOCK – A judge sentenced a Shenandoah County man Wednesday to serve 7 1/2 years in prison for sexually abusing a child in 2016.
Levi Jacob Steven Ryan appeared in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to stand trial on four counts of aggravated sexual battery, two counts of sodomy of a child younger than 13 years old and one count each of sexual assault of a child under the age of 13 and taking indecent liberties with a child under the age of 15.
However, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Elena Ventura and Ryan’s lawyer, William Allen III, reached a plea agreement that allowed the defendant to avoid a serving a life sentence.
Ryan, 21, pleaded guilty under terms of the agreement to one count of forcible sodomy but the agreement was amended to remove language citing the defendant’s age at the time of the offense. A conviction on the original charge carries a mandatory punishment of life in prison and a $100,000 fine, Allen said.
Ryan also pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child under 13, and one count of taking indecent liberties of a child less than 15 years old.
Judge Kevin Black accepted Ryan’s pleas and the agreement that also included the defendant’s punishment. Black sentenced Ryan to a total of 50 years with 42 years and six months suspended under the agreement. Specifically, Black sentenced Ryan to 10 years in prison with all but seven years and six months suspended on the first count of aggravated sexual battery; 10 years, all suspended, on the second charge of aggravated sexual battery; 25 years with 20 years suspended for forcible sodomy; and five years with all time suspended for taking indecent liberties with a child.
The judge also ordered Ryan to complete 10 years of supervised probation followed by 20 years of unsupervised probation upon release from incarceration. Ryan must register with state police as a sex offender. Black ordered that Ryan must have no contact with juveniles without adult supervision. Ryan also must participate in sex-offender treatment.
Black granted Ventura’s motion to dismiss, at the commonwealth’s request, Ryan’s remaining counts.
Sentencing guidelines prepared for the court recommend Ryan serve active prison time between seven years and three months and 15 years and seven months. The court is not bound by the guidelines, Black told Ryan.
The court dismissed two of Ryan’s charges of aggravated sexual battery against the same victim on Sept. 21 because the defendant was under the age of 18 when he allegedly committed the offenses.
Indictments handed up by a grand jury Aug. 15 charged Ryan with committing aggravated sexual battery against the victim sometime between April 1, 2016, and May 1, 2016; aggravated sexual battery between June 1 and July 1, 2016; forcible sodomy between April 15 and Dec. 2016; taking indecent liberties between August 2016 and August 2017.
Ventura provided a synopsis of the evidence the prosecutor planned to present had the case gone to trial. Page County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Charles Sours contacted Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Robert Poe on Nov. 9, 2017, Ventura said. Investigators in Page County seized a cellphone in the course of investigating an incident in Page County involving the victim in the Shenandoah County case, Ventura said. The victim had been charged in Page County with sending sexually explicit text messages to Ryan, she went on to say. The phone seized contained sexually explicit texts sent between the two individuals, Ventura added. Page County investigators interviewed the victim’s parents Nov. 16, 2017, who agreed to have the juvenile participate in treatment, Ventura said.
The juvenile victim’s therapist contacted Poe in late March 2018 and told the investigator that the child disclosed he had been sexually abused on several occasions, Ventura said. Sexual encounters included touching in a sexual manner, penetration and sodomy, the prosecutor noted.
Investigator Glenn Ogle interviewed the victim again and determined that the defendant engaged in the sexual activities with the juvenile at a residence in Shenandoah County from June 2016 through November 2017, Ventura went on to say. Ryan later confirmed to the investigator that he engaged in the sexual acts with the juvenile, Ventura said.
The prosecutor told the judge that it was her understanding that the previous assistant commonwealth’s attorney assigned to the case, Austin Hovermale, no longer with the office, spoke with the victim’s family. Ventura said “the victim and the victim’s mother did not want Mr. Ryan to serve (active prison time) at the high end of the guidelines.”
“It is my understanding that the victim’s mother didn’t want Mr. Ryan to serve more than 1 to 2 or 3 years,” Ventura said, noting that it was her understanding that the victim’s family wanted Ryan to receive treatment rather than prison time.
Black asked Allen if he wanted to comment on the case. Allen said the defendant and the victim “were young” at the time of the offenses.
The judge said he reviewed the sentencing guidelines and the facts of the case as well as the wishes of the victim’s family who did not want the court to impose punishment beyond what the agreement anticipated.
Ryan has no prior criminal record, Ventura said.