A 20-year-old Norwalk man who was "very young" when he began committing sex offenses will spend the next 20 years in prison.
Justin D. Collins pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of sexual battery. The convictions cover incidents in late March and mid-April and between December 2011 and March 2012.
Collins also was convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for a mid-June offense.
"The victims of the (sexual) battery were less than 13 years of age," Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said.
The girls' mother was in court Wednesday. She declined to speak at the hearing or be interviewed.
Leffler and defense attorney Nancy Jennings jointly recommended the 20-year prison term.
Once Collins is released, he must register his address every 90 days with the sheriff's office where he will be living for the rest of his life. The Tier III sex offender will be on five years of mandatory parole.
The sex offenses involve licking, touching and other sexual conduct, Leffler said.
"Mr. Collins was very young when he got involved in this," added the prosecutor, who said the defendant came from a dysfunctional family and a "bad family situation."
Leffler said the family members probably wonder how this "horrible situation" got to be this bad.
"There are really no winners in this situation," Leffler told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway.
Jennings, the defendant's attorney, called the case "a very unfortunate incident for everyone involved, especially the victims."
Collins, who didn't speak on his own behalf Wednesday, isn't the only defendant in this sex case.
In mid-October, Jason P. Wooten, 36, was sentenced to 15 years to life for raping a child who was younger than 10.
Collins was arrested in July after Wooten brought two daughters of his live-in girlfriend to the Huron County Sheriff's Office to report ongoing sex abuse by Collins and a boy who was 11 at the time.
Leffler said Collins had committed some sex offenses when he was a juvenile. However, Leffler said his office decided only to pursue the crimes the defendant committed as an adult.
After Collins complained about Wooten, investigators determined Wooten also had been sexually abusing the girls over a four-year period in Norwalk, Bellevue and possibly Lakewood.
In the late 1990s, Wooten served three years in prison for felonious sexual battery. The conviction is through Cuyahoga County.
Wooten was taken into custody a few days after Collins was arrested. It's unknown how the boy knows the adult defendants.
The boy, now 12, pleaded guilty Oct. 22 to three charges of gross sexual imposition. The delinquency 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. Chris Mushett, Huron County Juvenile Court administrator, said the boy isn't allowed to make any phone calls and can't use a cell phone, the Internet or any social networking.
The juvenile defendant is under 24-hour adult supervision and must undergo a sex offender assessment. Mushett said the boy cannot have any association with any females under the age of 18 -- with the exception of three relatives. His disposition hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21.