Miami County man avoided prison in sex case after sentencing in the Miami County Courthouse. STAFF

Miami County prosecutor to judge: ‘The defendant is a predator’

TROY – A Union Twp. man originally charged with felony rape and other sex offenses, but who took a plea deal, was sentenced to probation Thursday.

William Durham, 47, was sentenced in Miami County Common Pleas Court to five years of community control after a prosecutor’s plea for prison time.

Durham originally faced two felonies of rape, one felony of gross sexual imposition and two counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity oriented matter. Later, those charges were dismissed, and he pleaded no contest to one felony of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. He was found guilty by Judge Christopher Gee.

The original charges alleged illegal activity with a person under age 13. The new charge said that between Jan. 15 and Sept. 23, 2015, he provided to a 13-year-old material or performance that was obscene. The charge carried a potential sentence of one year in prison.

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At sentencing, defense lawyer Kevin Lennen said this was Durham’s first felony conviction and noted he was dealing with a serious health condition. Durham said he would need care by a nurse or specialist, if put in prison.

Janna Parker, an assistant county prosecutor, asked Gee to consider evidence in the case, handing Gee photos and writings she said depicted the inappropriate relationship with the girl. “The defendant is a predator, and he preyed on the victim and her family,” she said.

Parker said the teen victim had shown great progress since the case was filed in 2016, and she feared a “trial may have set her back significantly.” She said she considered Durham a risk on community control because of alleged attempts to contact the victim since his arrest and said prison time was appropriate.

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A written statement provided by the girl, who said abuse began when she was 11, was read by a victim advocate. The girl wrote the “abuse started out slow but happened many times.” She and her mother “were terrified” Durham would hurt them, the girl wrote.

Gee said Durham did not show remorse for his conduct but had lived a law-abiding life for many years, having one misdemeanor conviction 17 years ago.

Gee said as the case made its way through the court, he spent literally hundreds of hours reviewing Children’s Services records about the victim and family.

That information, he said, remained “in the court’s mind.” He added, however, prosecutors made the decision to not pursue the serious charges and then asked him to consider the allegations behind the charges they decided to dismiss.

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“I am just not capable of doing that. I believe my oath … requires me to punish the defendant on the case for which he is before the court today,” Gee said. “I am not supposed to make subjective judgments. That is why we have trials … pleas … I have a defendant before the court on a low-level felony and intend to sentence him on that.”

Durham faces sentencing conditions including a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, having no contact with the victim or her family, obtain a sex offender evaluation and follow any treatment recommendations, and have no unsupervised contact with any minor children. Durham was specifically ordered to not place anything on social media making any reference to the victim or her family.

Gee said if Durham violated conditions of his community control, he would face up to a year in prison.

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