LEWISTOWN - Jury selection scheduled to take place in Mifflin County on Tuesday for a sexual assault case was called off at the last minute after the defendant pleaded guilty.
It would have been the second jury picked to hear the case against Barry L. Rhodes, 62, who was charged with assaulting a 14-year-old girl in July of 2009 at a McVeytown residence. A jury picked in July never got the opportunity to hear the case because on the day of the jury trial defense attorney Christopher Basner failed to appear for court due to car troubles.
Rhodes' case has languished in common pleas court over the past several years and on Tuesday 80 to 90 potential jurors waited patiently in Courtroom 1, while down the hall in Courtroom 2, Rhodes had agreed to plead guilty to aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and indecent exposure charges.
Barry L. Rhodes
Prior to President Judge Timothy S. Searer imposing a time served to 10 year sentence, Rhodes was advised of his rights by the judge, who took time to specifically explain the options available to him, including picking a jury for a trial that was scheduled to commence on July 18.
Rhodes said he at one point had "every intention" of taking the case to trial, however, health-related issues have made him fatigued and brought about an unwillingness to continue with a trial.
Rhodes is currently serving a 20-to-42 year sentence in a state correctional facility for a rape conviction in Lancaster County. Rhodes filed an appeal with the Superior Court in that particular case.
"A brave 14-year-old girl stood up to her abuser which resulted in a guilty plea in Mifflin County," Assistant District Attorney Mark Remy said following court proceedings. "It also resulted in Lancaster County re-opening an old case and gaining a 20-to-42 year sentence for Mr. Rhodes.
"The bottom line is that if someone sexually abuses a child in Mifflin County we will do what we can to hold that perpetrator accountable. ... The credit in this case goes to the victim, her family, and some intrepid police officers and prosecutors," he added.
Basner did not wish to comment on the case.
Following Rhodes' plea, Searer shifted back to Courtroom 1 where he advised the potential jurors that their services would not be needed.