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Dennewitz sentenced on sex charge

MARIETTA – A Lower Salem man who was arrested for engaging in sexual conduct with a minor will now have to spend the next 17 months in prison after he failed to show up for pre-sentence appointments that could have led to alternative options.

Kirkland M. Dennewitz, 20, of 9645 State Route 821, will head to a state prison facility for more than a year after his sentencing hearing Wednesday afternoon in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

Dennewitz was 19 when he was arrested last year and charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for incidents that occurred in June in Salem Township.

According to reports, Dennewitz had met a female child who was between the ages of 13 and 16 online and began a sexual relationship with her. The investigation found that nothing about the incidents was forced, but that social media and behavior between the two of them involved activity to which the minor could not legally consent.

“If the defendant has failed to comply, I think the court’s hands are tied in alternative options for him,” said Washington County interim Prosecutor Kevin Rings.

Dennewitz was indicted on two fourth-degree felony counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in August, and he pleaded guilty to one in January.

“The PSI (pre-sentence investigation) was never received; he didn’t keep his appointment for a PSI and he didn’t keep his appointment for a SEPTA evaluation,” said Common Pleas Judge Ed Lane.

Those evaluations could have turned up eligibility for community control or for Dennewitz to be sent to the SEPTA Correctional Facility, an alternative option that allows for rehabilitation programs in lieu of traditional prison time.

“Without a PSI, the minimum for prison time is six months, and had he been put under community control, it would likely be six months or under,” said defense attorney Randall Jedlink. “We ask you to look at his record, or lack thereof, in determining a sentence.”

Dennewitz does not have a prior juvenile or adult record.

While the maximum allowed for the felony is 18 months, Lane gave him 17 months and an additional five years of post-release control.

The conviction carries classification as a Tier II sex offender involving a child victim, which requires Dennewitz to be registered for 25 years and requires verification every 180 days.

Dennewitz was ordered to pay court costs.

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