Tue., 9:05am: Men involved in sex scheme sentenced

LISBON – Three men involved in a scheme to bring two teenager girls to Liverpool Township and have sex with two of them were sentenced in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court to probation terms on Monday.

Dylan Edgar Rhodes, 21, Anderson Boulevard, East Liverpool, and Nicholas James Meeks, 23, North Sumner Street, East Palestine, both previously had pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. The two had sex with both a 14-year-old and 15-year-old girl in Rhodes’ home on Anderson Boulevard in 2012, the night of Dec. 29 and early morning hours of Dec. 30.

Both Rhodes and Meeks were sentenced to three years probation and will be required to register as Tier II sexual offenders.

During back-to-back separate hearings, neither had much of an answer when Judge C. Ashley Pike asked why if they knew it was wrong did they go ahead with the plan.

Doug King, defense attorney for Meeks, said his client admits his actions were “extremely reckless and dangerous.”

“Nicholas admits quite frankly he needs to grow up,” King added.

Both Meeks and Rhodes noted they were young and stupid, while adding they have matured or grew up a lot since then. Both had little to no criminal history according to the court records and both reportedly cooperated with investigators.

The other man involved, Chris Monte, 49, Bell School Road, East Liverpool, had pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, first-degree misdemeanor of permitting drug abuse. The charge was amended from a second-degree felony charge of corrupting another with drugs, which could have meant up to eight years in prison.

Assistant County Prosecutor Timothy McNicol claims Monte drove the girls from Alliance to Liverpool Township. One of the girls reportedly told authorities she was provided with cocaine and smoked marijuana in Monte’s vehicle. McNicol said Monte was far older than the other two defendants.

“If anyone could have stopped this debacle from happening it was him,” McNicol added.

Monte told Pike he did not know the ages of the girls nor did he see any drugs in his vehicle. His attorney, Dominic Frank, said his client was asked to pick up the girls and drop them off, but he did not know how old the girls were. Additionally, Monte reportedly did not know about illegal drug use going on.

The next day when the girls told Monte what happened, Frank said Monte actually encouraged the girls to talk to their parents and seek medical attention.

“He was extremely adamant, ‘You need to seek medical help,'” Frank said of his client’s concern for the girls. “He feels responsible and perhaps he should have investigated (what was going to happen that night) more.”

Pike asked Monte if he was sure if he wanted to proceed with sentencing on a charge it sounded like he is not really admitting to doing. After conferring with Frank during a short recess, Monte asked to continue with sentencing. Besides unsupervised probation, Pike fined Monte $300.

Neither of the two girls nor their families appeared in court on Monday. McNicol told the judge he notified them of the hearing, but actually has not heard from them since the grand jury indictments were issued in the case.