Watkins letter: Don’t allow release of ‘serial child rapist’

WARREN — A man who raped several kids he is related to and allowed others to assault one of them, too, over a five-year period is up for parole in August, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

John Whisonant, 64, is being held in the Marion Correctional Institution after his conviction in 1985 in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on four counts of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition, according to records.

He was sentenced to serve 21 to 75 years in prison and has served 34, according to a letter Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins wrote to the Ohio Parole Board opposing his release.

The boys and girls were 4 to 10 when the crimes occurred in Howland, according to Watkins’ letter.

The letter includes a 2010 quote from a former case worker for Trumbull County Children Services, Marcia Tiger, who later became the executive director of the agency.

“The Whisonant case became the standard bearer for horrific sexual abuse cases in our county. In my 35 years in child welfare, a handful of really serious cases vividly stick in my mind. The Whisonant case is definitely one of those cases,” she wrote, according to Watkins’ letter.

If Whisonant had been convicted in 2019, with changes in child sex abuse laws in 1988, Whisonant would have likely been sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole, according to Watkins’ letter.

“No longer is it required that the prosecution must show that ‘force or threat of force’ was used in raping young children,” the letter states.

Three of the children suffered physical injuries as a result of the assaults.

“Throughout the years, Whisonant, like most pedophiles, do often minimize their behavior and attempt to con others, including victims, that one should somehow feel sorry for them. Just give me another chance! Never in my book when you have a serial child rapist,” Watkins states.

Whisonant should stay in prison where he has no access to children, Watkins wrote.

Even though he has a low risk score, if he were released he’d be exposed to children again, creating an “undue risk to public safety,” Watkins argues.

The case also led to convictions against David Beane on two counts of gross sexual imposition, which led to a three-year sentence; and Allan Crane on one count of the same charge, which led to a two-year sentence, according to an earlier letter Watkins wrote to the parole board in 2010.

In the 2010 letter, Watkins asks to “lock him up until he dies.”

The children testified against Whisonant, except a 4-year-old. The charge connected to that child’s assault was dropped to spare her from testifying, the letter states.