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Belpre man receives prison sentence in sexual battery case

MARIETTA — A Belpre man received a mandatory four years of prison with the potential of up to six years at a sentencing hearing Thursday in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

Andrew J. Neal, 38, of 601 Barclay St., was arrested in April on a charge of rape of a victim under the age of 13 and sexual battery and gross sexual imposition. Neal pleaded guilty in May to sexual battery, a second-degree felony.

“The court does find that you show no remorse in this matter,” said Judge John Halliday, who sentenced Neal. “You are a Tier III sex offender [and] child victim offender. You will have to [register] for your lifetime with in-person registration every 90 days.”

Neal was arrested on April 29 and both the prosecution and Halliday said the victim was a minor with developmental and learning disabilities. Family members of the victim in the gallery Thursday declined to speak on her behalf.

“The injury was made worse by the mental condition of the victim,” Halliday said.

The prosecution recommended a mandatory five year sentence while Neal’s defense attorney, Eric Fowler, recommended a lower sentence because of a small criminal history and Neal was employed until the arrest.

“Mr. Neal had a good employment record. He actually did some work on my cars for several years,” Fowler, assigned to Neal by the Washington County Public Defender’s Office, said.

Fowler recommended the lower-end of the mandatory prison sentence for the sexual battery conviction, two years rather than the maximum eight years.

Neal declined to speak before Halliday sentenced him, but did say upon his release he hopes to return to New York. Neal received 69 days credit for time served in the Washington County Jail.

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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