MIAMI COUNTY — Wearing a light pink medical mask over his face, William Durham, 47, of Union Twp., was sentenced to serve five years of community control in a case involving sexual misconduct with a minor in a case which began in 2016
Durham entered a plea of no contest and was found guilty of fifth-degree felony disseminating material harmful to minors last month.
As part of the plea agreement with the state, the state dismissed Durham’s previous felony charges of two counts of rape, one count of sexual imposition and two counts of illegal use of a minor in sexually oriented materials. Assistant Prosecutor Janna Parker explained that she believed it would have been detrimental to the victim’s mental health to testify and reached the plea agreement to spare the victim’s well-being.
On Thursday, Durham, who receives almost daily kidney dialysis, and his defense counsel Kevin Lennen, asked Judge Christopher Gee to consider his medical issues prior to sentencing. Durham had no prior felony record.
Gee later noted Durham expressed no genuine remorse for his actions.
Gee said the case started with first-degree felony charges and reviewed “hundreds of hours” worth of Miami County Children Services records, which detailed the victim, the victim’s family and Durham’s relationship.
Gee said although Durham faced serious charges, he was bound to the law to sentence him on the charge presented to the court, noting Durham had a right to trial and the state had a right to take the original case to trial, but understood the state’s circumstances for the compromise in the case.
Prior to sentencing, Parker said Durham has demonstrated he is not cooperative with orders from the court.
“It is the state’s position that the defendant is a predator,” she said.
Miami County Assistant Prosecutor Janna Parker provided the court eight exhibits to show Durham’s actions involving the minor victim, including social media messages, photos downloaded to Durham’s computer of the victim and interpretations of cryptic codes to the minor victim. One of the cryptic acronyms was “BTAF” meaning “Be True and Faithful.” Parker also shared when Durham and his wife were ordered to have no contact with the victim by a Miami County Juvenile Court magistrate, Durham was seen at a store with the victim by the victim’s caseworker.
Parker said one of the messages, using scrambled letters, to the victim stated, “Stay strong. Family first. Don’t stop being true to what you have. … You are a “wife” to me in the eyes of Jesus,” and “Love you, sweetheart, I’ll never stop.” Parker also said Durham was able to get a note to the victim, who was in a foster home in another county. Locations of foster children are confidential. Durham was also able to get a photo of the victim’s foster family and downloaded it on his computer.
In a letter to the court, the victim said Durham allegedly raped her at the age of 11 during a movie night. She claimed Durham threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the abuse. She requested the highest punishment for Durham.
Durham was indicted on the charges in 2016. A plea of no contest admits to the truth of the fact of the charge and the defendant does not contest the charge.
Durham’s original grand jury indictment states the charges stem from a reported sexual assault involving a minor under age 13. Durham entered a plea of not guilty to those charges.
Durham was ordered to not have contact with the victim or the victim’s family including social media and third parties. He was also ordered to not refer to the victim or the victim’s family on social media. He was also ordered to complete sex offender counseling and treatment and have no unsupervised contact with minor children. If Durham fails to comply with the community control sanctions, Gee reserved 12 months in prison.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org