LIMA — A Convoy man initially charged with rape in an organized sexual assault —along with the husband-and-wife duo of Jay and Christy Holliday — of an underage female was sentenced Friday to 4 1/2 years in prison.
James Hershberger, 39, was indicted by an Allen County grand jury in May 2019 on charges of rape, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and sexual battery. In February, he accepted a plea deal from prosecutors that called for him to plead guilty to the sexual battery charge, a felony of the third degree, in exchange for the state’s dismissal of the remaining counts.
Judge Terri Kohlrieser, calling Hershberger’s behavior “part of the systematic abuse of a young girl,” handed down the 54-month prison term that also labeled the defendant as a Tier 3 sexual offender. As such, he must register with authorities in his county of residence every 90 days for life.
The incident in question reportedly took place took place between March 1 and March 14 of last year. Raven Loiza from the Crime Victim Services agency was in court Friday on behalf of the victim and said the young female to this day is undergoing “intensive mental health therapy” as a result of the abuse she endured.
While prosecutors alleged a personal relationship between Hershberger and his victim contributed to the offense, Defense Attorney Carroll Creighton argued no such relationship existed. Hershberger, for his part, did offer what the judge said she believed to be a heartfelt apology.
“I am very, very sorry. I never meant for this to happen to this female,” Hersberger said. “If I knew everything I know now, it never would have happened.”
Jay Holliday is currently serving a 156-year prison sentence for raping the 16-year-old and another child. Christy Holliday’s case is still winding its way through the court system. She is charged with felonious assault, sexual battery and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for the same set of acts.