Rapist seeks early release from prison

WARREN – Accused of sexually abusing five of his own six children and convicted by a jury of raping four of them, John Whisonant will try again to convince authorities at a parole hearing to release him from prison after serving more than 28 years.

And once again, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins formally opposes any release for the 58-year-old convicted child rapist who is confined to Marion Correctional Institution.

Whisonant’s hearing is scheduled for December and Watkins is reminding Ohio’s Parole Board that the rapist is actually ”one of the luckiest inmates in Ohio” considering his crimes were committed in the 1980s and before a change in the law.

Indictments against the defendant didn’t allege the element of force, eliminating the potential life sentence. Currently, force or the threat of force is implied when it involves the very young and convictions carry a life sentence.

In Whisonant’s case, rape charges involving his 4-year-old daughter were dropped before a trial to spare the girl the ordeal of testifying against her father.

Three other daughters between the ages of 6 and 9, and a 5-year-old son did testify against their father, resulting in a sentence of 21 to 75 years imposed by former Judge Mitchell F. Shaker.

”To say this offender is a danger to society is an understatement. Though he may have conned his way with his victims, it is my belief and hope that he will never be able to con his way out of prison and prey on any child again,” Watkins wrote in his latest letter to the board.

The prosecutor also pointed out to board members in his letter that two other men – acquaintances of Whisonant – also were convicted of gross sexual imposition on the children and were given two- and three-year sentences after Howland police said the defendant invited his friends to prey on the children.

Whisonant lived on Niles Road S.E. and one of his daughters reported to a school official at North Road Elementary School that her father had sexually abused her for years.