Ohio man in child rape case hopes foster sons won't have to testify

TROY, Ohio (AP) - An adoptive father charged with raping three boys in his care admits wrongdoing, is sorry and wants to help spare them from testifying in court.

The 40-year-old western Ohio man also told The Associated Press in an interview this week that he wants to testify against two other men who are charged with raping one of the boys.

The adoptive father last month pleaded guilty to six rape counts against him in his home area of Miami County, with 25 counts dropped in a plea agreement. He still faces a potential trial this month in Montgomery County on three counts of rape of a child under 13 and four related charges.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt them," he said, choking up during the short jailhouse interview Sunday. "I wish that my life was different."

He had adopted three children, one of them a girl, and was in the process of adopting a fourth, another boy, when arrested in February. The children were ages 9 to 12. The AP isn't naming the adoptive father to protect the children's identities.

The man, who had said little publicly since his arrest, said he hopes a plea agreement can be worked out in the Montgomery County case "so my kids don't have to go through that."

His attorney, Nick Gounaris, of Dayton, declined to comment on the possibility of another plea deal but said it has been a "goal from Day One to not have the children have to testify." The Montgomery County prosecutor's office said only that the trial remained on schedule to begin Dec. 10.

In Miami County, the man has pledged to cooperate with prosecutors in the trial of Jason Zwick, 30, on three child rape counts. The adoptive father faces a sentence of at least 60 years in prison in that plea agreement.

He said he is also willing to testify in the Montgomery County trial of Patrick Rieder, charged with four rape counts and dozens of pornography counts. Rieder's attorney declined to comment Monday. Zwick's attorney didn't immediately return a telephone message

A Miami County judge ruled recently that the boy the other two men are accused of raping could testify in Zwick's trial by closed circuit TV.

The adoptive father said there was no abuse involving the girl, and the longtime foster parent and youth basketball coach also insisted he never molested any other children.

"I always wanted to help and protect kids," he said. "Somewhere along the line ... I don't know how to explain it."

He said he had been repeatedly sexually abused as a child by a male relative. He said that affected his understanding of what behavior was right and wrong with the boys in his home.

"His abuse not only affected me, but now has affected my sons, and now I'm being the total blame for that," the man wrote in a letter to the AP. He also wrote that he provided for them and made sure they had good health care and participated in sports, church and other youth activities.

"I did so much good and love my kids so much, that everybody is focused on the one bad thing and not seeing the whole picture of me," he wrote.

But he added Sunday: "I understand what I did was wrong."

He said he hopes the children will be helped through counseling. He said he wants to help protect other children from sexual abuse, and would help law enforcement investigate other sexual offenders.

He said he has lost some 50 pounds while in jail, dropping to just over 150 pounds.

"I just don't have an appetite to eat," he said, adding that he also feels depressed, but that he is "afraid to take medicine" because he thinks that might be used against him in court to question his testimony.

Gounaris, his attorney, said he "very much so" believes the man will be a reliable witness.

The adoptive father was arrested in February following an investigation that began when an undercover detective came across online references to "taboo" sex. The four children were taken into the care of county children's services after the arrest.


Associated Press writer Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

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