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Prosecutor: He should have to live with this the rest of his life

FARMINGTON – A Washington County man has been sentenced to 114 years in prison and fined $10,000 for repeatedly molesting a girl for a period of eight years.

A St. Francois County jury found Cecil W. Rhoden Jr., 37, of Richwoods, guilty of five counts of first-degree statutory sodomy and two counts of second-degree statutory sodomy in April. They recommended 20-year sentences on the first-degree charges and seven years on the second-degree charges.

It was up to Circuit Court Judge Kenneth W. Pratte whether to run those sentences concurrently for a total of 20 years or consecutively for a total of 114 years.

On Friday, Rhoden’s attorney, James Pennoyer, asked the judge for concurrent sentences while Washington County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Dan James indicated he didn’t feel even 114 years in prison was enough punishment for the man.

However, James said the first three counts require that Rhoden serve 85 percent of those sentences because the charges involved a victim under the age of 12. He said that means Rhoden would serve a minimum of 51 years before he was eligible for parole.

During sentencing, James said Rhoden was a predator who deserved to be sentenced to the maximum sentence. He said Rhoden put the victim through “this hell eight years.”

The abuse began when the girl was 8 years old. The victim told police he would come to her bedroom while she was asleep and touch her inappropriately.

James said Rhoden kept his victim close and wouldn’t let her get out of the house much because he feared she would tell her friends. She eventually did tell her friends who convinced her to go to the police.

It was alleged that Rhoden threatened to harm the victim and her mother if police were notified.

“She has to live with this the rest of her life,” he said. “He should have to live with this the rest of his.”

The victim and her mother stood by the prosecutor during sentencing but did not address the court. She did testify during the trial.

The victim said she was glad that he was sentenced to 114 years. She said he needed it.

James said he hopes the sentence sends a message that anyone who has molested a child will be facing a lot of time in prison.

“If you do this to a child, you pay the price,” he said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Rhoden’s two-day trial was held in April in St. Francois County on a change of venue from Washington County. It took jurors less than three hours to come back with a guilty verdict on the seven felony charges.

Pennoyer failed to file a motion for a new trial within the allotted time but Judge Pratte still reviewed and denied the motion, which was filed in court records the day of sentencing.

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