Rape suspect has 'plea agreement in the works'

Man, 20, was arrested after victims' mom's live-in boyfriend reported sex abuse to police; the boyfriend later admitted he, too, had been sexually abusing the girls.
Cary Ashby
Jan 14, 2014

A Norwalk rape suspect's defense attorney is working on a possible plea deal with Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler.

Justin D. Collins, 20, formerly of 37 Jefferson St., waived his right to a speedy trial Monday. The court scheduled a further, final pre-trial hearing for Jan. 29 and a trial date for Feb. 4.

Defense attorney Nancy Jennings "has a plea agreement in the works" with Leffler, Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said at the beginning of Monday's hearing. Leffler later said he's hoping to get a prison term in the range of 20 years.

"Needless to say, he's reluctant," he also told the Reflector, referring to Collins.

Collins is charged with three counts of rape and one charge of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

Two of the rape charges reportedly involve a victim who is now 11 years old and are in connection with incidents in late March 2013 and between December 2011 and March 2012. One rape charge is in connection with a mid-April incident allegedly involving a victim who is now 13. The unlawful sexual conduct charge stems from a mid-June offense.

Collins remains in custody at the Huron County Jail, unable to post a $125,000 bond.

In July, Collins was arrested after Jason P. Wooten, 36, brought two daughters of his live-in girlfriend to the Huron County Sheriff's Office to report ongoing sex abuse reportedly committed by Collins and a 11-year-old Norwalk boy. It's unknown how the boy knows the adult defendants.

Investigators learned Wooten also was sexually abusing the girls over a four-year period in Norwalk, Bellevue and possibly Lakewood. He was taken into custody a few days after Collins was arrested.

Wooten, in October, pleaded guilty to one count of rape and was sentenced to 15 years to life for molesting a child who was younger than 10.

The boy has a pending disposition hearing in Huron County Juvenile Court for his role in the case.

He pleaded guilty Oct. 22 to three counts of gross sexual imposition. The admission is for three incidents between June 1 and July 18 involving three girls, who were 6, 8 and 11 years old at the time.

"He is on (electronically-monitored) house arrest in the temporary custody of an aunt," court administrator Chris Mushett said in late October.

The defendant is under 24-hour adult supervision, must undergo sex offender assessment and complete any recommended treatment or counseling. He is prohibited from having any direct or indirect association with any female under the age of 18.