WARREN - Dubbed by a prosecutor as a ''serial rapist,'' Daniel Miller of West Farmington, and a member of the Amish community, was sentenced to life behind bars Monday after pleading guilty to 17 counts related to the sexual assaults of seven minor females, including five counts that carried potential life sentences.
Miller, 47, will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years.
He was sentenced by Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Peter Kontos, whose courtroom was packed with Amish community members.
''The young are vulnerable and you preyed on that vulnerability,'' Kontos said, announcing an agreed sentence between Miller and the prosecution that included the counts of rape, gross sexual imposition and sexual battery.
Miller said nothing to the judge other than to quietly shake his head or nod to questions. He did say he completed the eighth grade.
Assistant Trumbull County prosecutor Gabe Wildman read impact statements from two of the girls, who Miller and his family babysat, and their mother:
Tribune Chronicle photos / Christopher Bobby
Members of the Amish community filled Judge Peter Kontos’ courtroom Monday for the sentencing of Daniel Miller of West Farmington. Miller was given life in prison on 17 counts of sexual assault.
''I was taught as a child to forgive and forget, but the sins committed against my innocent girls are unforgivable. There is only one way they won't by afraid anymore and put this behind them. The best way for that to happen is to put Dan Miller in prison for the rest of his life,'' the mother's statements read.
''When I grew up and actually realized what Dan had done to me he took something away from me that I feel like I'll never be able to get back. He took away my childhood and my ability to trust people. Now I'm a mother to be with a baby on the way and the mere thought of knowing what had happened to me scares me enough to never want to allow anyone else to babysit my child,'' one victim wrote, explaining she tried using drugs to help her cope with the anxiety.
''I'm so glad I'm here to be able to look him in the eyes and let him know that I'm not scared of him anymore. I'm in charge now. How many children could be out there that weren't strong enough to come out and tell somebody? He's a horrible man who did horrible things to innocent children,'' a second victim wrote.
Three of the victims are from Miller's family, two were neighbors of the Miller family and two others were watched by the Miller family. Two of the seven victims are now adults.
Wildman pointed out that it was only after an initial wave of indictments against Miller and publicity of those charges that more victims came forward, leading to superceding indictments.
''I know of at least two other victims out there, who chose not to pursue charges, but said they were molested by Miller," Wildman said. ''I've never had a child rape case with this many victims."
The crimes all occurred between 2000 and 2012.
Wildman said the charges came to light when victims were interviewed for an unrelated but overlapping investigation by Children Services. More than one of the victims also had disclosed certain allegations to family members.
By that time, Wildman said Miller had been taken by members of the local Amish community to Whispering Hope, a counseling or treatment center in Cumberland County, Pa., where he was eventually arrested.
''I think it can be tricky when you are dealing with the Amish or any other community that is reluctant to report these things. Obviously, there is mandatory reporting requirements under Ohio law, and we would encourage anyone who is a mandatory reporter to report these crimes, especially child abuse,'' Wildman said.