Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

TOP STORY >>Rapists of kids get long jail time

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

Area courts sent a strong message to rapists last week, with Lonoke County judges sentencing one child rapist to 30 years in prison and another to 60 years. Meanwhile, a Jacksonville man was convicted in Pulaski County Circuit Court Friday for the brutal rape of a woman who lived with him and Monday a jury of seven men and five women sentenced him to 10 years for rape and five years for kidnapping.

In Lonoke County, Johnny Wayne Crossland, 42, of 44 Candy Lane in Austin was sentenced for raping a youngster at a relative’s house, after asking the boy if he wanted to watch cartoons. When a neighbor drove up, Crossland told the child he would kill him if he told about the rape, then threw the child a $5 bill.

Crossland must serve 42 of the 60 years before becoming eligible for parole. Edward Erwin, 24, of 541 Main St. in Coy pled guilty to two charges of rape and terrorist threatening for the rape of a 12-year-old girl. Erwin, a friend of the family, raped the child March 4 and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

The Jacksonville rapist, who was convicted of raping a woman he lived with, will remain in jail pending an appeal, Circuit Judge Willard Proctor ruled Monday. Joe Francis Rounsaville, then of 209 N. Bailey St.—scene of the rape—could have received a life sentence without the chance of parole, or 10 to 40 years.

“I don’t sleep,” said the victim testifying in the sentencing phase of the trial Monday, “and when I do, I hear his voice. I wake up crying. I’m afraid I won’t ever be able to trust anyone again ever.” After the sentence was an-nounced, the victim said she was satisfied. “Any time (received) is fine, just so long as he realizes what he did was wrong,” she said.

Rounsaville apparently became angry at the 51-year-old woman last Dec. 14, tightly bound her wrists, then raped her anally and vaginally, beat her and urinated on her. A friend testified that she looked as if she had been in a bad car wreck.
Prosecutor Jenna Notto Sherrill and the victim both told the jury that Rounsaville also tried to strangle her with a plastic tie and held a pillow over her face, telling her he would “help her die.”

In sentencing Rounsaville to 10 years, the lightest prison term possible—the jury signaled that the mandatory seven years he’ll spend in prison is sufficient. That’s when he’ll become eligible for parole. Jurors may have been influenced by the fact that after reporting the attack to the police, the victim moved back in with him two weeks later and tried to have charges dropped.

Sherrill said the woman returned because she was an alcoholic with low esteem and no place else to live. Rounsaville said the incident was nothing more than rough sex between consenting adults.

Bailiffs kept a tight rein on Proctor’s courtroom Monday, confiscating a cell phone that rang during court, removing two women from the gallery for loud whispered disapproval of the sentencing of a loved one, ordering one man to stop reading a newspaper during court and scolding two other women who remained seated after the bailiff asked all in the courtroom to stand for the judge—all that in the space of about one hour.