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Judge rejects plea agreement for alleged sex offender

A judge rejected a plea agreement that would have sentenced a Dickinson man accused of having sexual contact with a minor to one year in jail during a hearing at the Stark County Courthouse on Tuesday.

A pre-trial hearing will be scheduled at a later date for Devin Young of Dickinson, who is charged with gross sexual imposition after allegedly having sex with a girl younger than 15 years old at Young's grandfather's home in April 2011, according to the criminal complaint.

Young faces a Class A felony, which carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

As part of the plea agreement reached by Young's attorney and the state, Young had agreed to plead guilty and would have been sentenced to eight years in jail with seven years suspended.

After a short break to consider the plea agreement, Judge H. Patrick Weir said he could not accept it.

"In three years, this is only the second plea agreement I have not accepted, and the court will allow the guilty plea to be withdrawn," Weir said. "I have a problem with accepting a plea in this case because Mr. Young denied in a pre-sentencing investigation that he ever had sexual intercourse with this child. He was also charged with the same crime, which was later reduced to sexual assault, a few years ago."

Weir also said his decision was based partly on the results of a risk assessment for sex offenders that concluded Young is at high risk of re-offending.

Rhonda Rae Ehlis, Stark County assistant state's attorney, said the state has dealt with Young for years, but this is the first crime he has committed as an adult.

Ehlis said the family of the victim in this case, who is still a minor, was made aware of the plea agreement.

She said the victim is "working to put this behind her, which includes counseling."

As part of his bail, Ehlis requested that Young be ordered to have no contact with any females under the age of 18.

After court adjourned, Ehlis said the judge's ruling was not unexpected.

"Based on what I know, I'm not surprised that the judge did not except the plea agreement," she said. "Now we'll have to wait for the pre-trial to be set and maybe a trial after that, if we cannot come to an agreement."

Young's attorney, Jay Ryan Greenwood, declined comment.