LIMA — A brief but emphatic expression of relief and joy erupted from a portion of the gallery in an Allen County courtroom Monday when a Lima man initially accused of rape was sent to prison on lesser charges.
Jeremie Fuson, 43, was sentenced by Judge Jeffery Reed to 36 months in prison on two fourth-degree felony charges of gross sexual imposition. He pleaded no contest to those charges in July after being indicted last year on two counts of first-degree felony rape.
A collective “yes” was emitted by family and friends of a woman who told the court during Monday’s hearing Fuson forced himself upon her sexually in June 2017. Fuson maintained the sex was consensual.
Outside the courthouse prior to Monday’s hearing a dozen women — all of whom were in the courtroom when sentence was passed — carried signs and shouted to passersby their displeasure with the plea deal offered to Fuson.
The women, including three who alleged they had been raped by Jeremie Fuson in recent years, carried signs that read “Rape is a Crime But Not in Allen County” and “How Many More Will You Let Him Rape?”
“No more plea deals,” one of the protesters shouted.
A woman who identified herself as the sister of Fuson’s victim said former Allen County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Terri Kohlreiser had told the family early in the case that no plea deal to anything less than a rape charge would be offered to Fuson.
During Monday’s hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Destiny Caldwell said she and other members of the prosecutor’s office had “reviewed the case in great detail and did feel and do feel that this (plea deal) was an appropriate resolution to this case.”
The victim addressed the court, saying she considered suicide after being raped by Fuson and telling the judge that the incident “tore me down emotionally, physically and mentally. If I could take back the events of June 23, 2017, I would do it in a heartbeat and would drive right past that monster’s house. … I cannot connect any more with who I was before that day,” she said.
Fuson, however, portrayed himself as the real victim in the case.
“This whole situation … I never seen it coming. I was led to believe she (the victim) was into me,” the Lima man said. “No one ever told me ‘no.’ I feel like I’ve been bullied for the past year.”
Fuson was labeled a Tier I sex offender and will be required to register annually with local authorities for the next 15 years. He will be eligible to apply for early release after spending six months in prison.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.