CANTON — A Stark County man has pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in a child rape case.

And he faces additional decades in prison in a related case out of state.

James T. Bales, 45, of Alliance admitted to three counts of rape in Stark County Common Pleas Court.

His wife, Jessica M. Bales, 36, of Alliance, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a count of endangering children and was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to undergo a mental health assessment. She will also be placed on the court’s mental health track known as the H.O.P.E. Program (Helping Offenders Psychologically and Emotionally).

James Bales sexually assaulted a young girl multiple times between 2000 and 2005 at three homes in Alliance, according to court records filed in the case by the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office.

The victim had reported the sexual abuse to Jessica Bales, who didn’t contact authorities, court records said.

Judge John Haas sentenced the pair at separate hearings.

“The resolution (in James Bales’ case) was made with the consent of the victim,” said Stark County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Petricini, noting the victim is now an adult.

The victim has struggled with depression stemming from the sexual abuse and didn’t want the case to go to trial, Petricini said.

The sexual abuse started in California, the assistant prosecutor said. James Bales faces between 13 to 33 years in prison in the California case, Petricini said.

Jessica Bales initially had been indicted on a count of complicity to rape but the charge was later dismissed, according to court records.

The woman “encouraged (the child) to not talk about (the sexual abuse) or report it to authorities,” court records said.

Stark County Assistant Prosecutor Christy Donnelly said that during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing Haas told Jessica Bales she failed to protect the girl but also noted the woman had a history of being victimized herself and that may have played a role in her failing to report the sexual abuse.

Other terms of the woman’s sentence include completing a victim awareness program through the probation department.

“Jessica’s sentence was an agreement made for her cooperation with a potential trial (for James),” Petricini said. “She would have been a critical witness in that James admitted to Jessica he abused the victim.”

Last year, the victim — now living in another state — posted information about the sexual assaults on Facebook, Alliance police said previously. Commenters encouraged her to notify police, so the victim called authorities.

 

Reach Ed at 330-580-8315 and ed.balint@cantonrep.com

On Twitter @ebalintREP