A Cuyahoga County man admitted to raping a 12-year-old female relative and was sentenced to 10 years in prison during a hearing this afternoon.
Thomas J. O’Donnell Sr., 40, of Eastlake, was labeled a sexual predator, meaning he will have to register his address with the sheriff’s office for the rest of life on a quarterly basis. O’Donnell pleaded guilty to one count of rape during the same Huron County Common Pleas Court hearing.
In a plea deal, the state agreed to dismiss the balance of the defendant’s early August indictment — two counts each of rape and three charges of gross sexual imposition.
On July 1, O’Donnell sexually abused the girl while she was riding with him during various tow truck jobs in Erie County, Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said. The prosecutor said the “initial touching” led to sexual conduct that lasted through July 22 in Huron County.
Local prosecutors have said O’Donnell first raped the victim at his work in Sandusky and then molested the girl twice later in Huron County. The July 1 incident came to the attention of the Sandusky Police Department on July 24. Erie County authorities later agreed the Huron County Sheriff’s Office would handle the investigation.
“It was utterly shocking. I’ve known him for seven years,” the victim’s mother told the court. “He’s the last person I thought would harm a child.”
The woman said O’Donnell, who hung his head while she spoke, “destroyed my child’s innocence.”
On July 25, the mother brought the girl to The Bellevue Hospital emergency room, complaining of “sexual abuse by a family member” that started three weeks earlier, Lt. Randy Sommers said earlier. Sommers and an investigator with Huron County Children Services then looked into the allegations.