A York County man convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl for nearly four years has been sentenced to at least a decade in prison but is allowed to remain free while he appeals his case to the state Superior Court.
His victim, who is now an adult, has recanted her allegations against Stephen Noel Jessee, both in court and to The York Dispatch.
Jessee, 45, cried at Wednesday's sentencing hearing, as did several of his family members sitting in the gallery behind him.
In April, it took a jury about 45 minutes to find Jessee guilty of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and corruption of a minor.
The sentence: On Wednesday, Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner sentenced Jessee to 10 to 20 years in state prison.
Bortner allowed Jessee to remain free on bail pending his appeal, deputy prosecutor Stephen McDonald said.
The victim did not attend the hearing, but local attorney Deirdre Sullivan was present on her behalf.
Sullivan told the judge in open court that the victim continues to maintain she lied about the accusations she made against Jessee, according to the prosecutor.
But McDonald said he doesn't believe that.
"We definitely believe there was some coercion," he said.
The background: The crimes happened between 2006 and 2010 at Jessee's former home in North Codorus Township and started when the girl was 14 years old, according to McDonald.
McDonald managed to get a quick conviction despite the fact the victim, who is now in her early 20s, changed her story on the witness stand, he said.
At trial, the victim said she and Jessee had sex once or twice when she was 17-1/2 years old, but not before that, according to the prosecutor.
McDonald said he was able to show jurors the victim was being pressured to change her testimony or risk a child-custody battle. At age 17, she became pregnant with Jessee's child — a fact jurors also heard, he said.
"I think the jury could see the whole picture," McDonald said after the conviction.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.