A Butler County jury returned the verdict about 3:45 p.m. Thursday, May 7. It took Common Pleas Judge Andrew Nastoff 10 minutes read the 25 guilty verdicts to Stephen B. Rader.
Rader, of the 200 block of Bavarian Drive, faces life in prison for raping two boys and a girl younger than 10, and 22 counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor.
The 40-year-old man confessed the sexual contact with the children to Middletown police, but took the stand in his own defense to deny molesting the children and possessing the images found on his computer and at his home.
When the verdict was read, Rader, standing with defense attorney Frank Schiavone, began crying. Family members of the young victims also burst into tears and reached over courtroom benches to hold hands.
During the trial, the jury viewed explicit child pornography images in the form of tapes and slide shows for approximately two hours, according to Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Jennifer McElfresh. Two of the children also took the stand and told the jury about the sexual abuse.
“These cases are always difficult,” McElfresh said. “I am amazed at the courage of these children to come forward and testify about something that many adults wouldn’t have the courage to do.”
Nastoff ordered a presentence investigation and will sentence Rader on June 5. The child rape charges carry a penalty of up to life in prison and 11 of the pandering charges carry eight-year prison sentences with the other 11 charges each carrying a maximum 18 months in prison.
“We are so glad,” said the mother of one of the children after the verdict was read. “The prosecutor got justice for our children.”
The woman said Rader was a friend of the family. She grew up with Rader and went to church with him.
“I have known him all my life. You just never know about people,” she said. “To all the parents out there, watch your children. Look for the signs. It could be anyone. Your best friend or neighbor.”
Rader was arrested in August on pandering charges. That was also when Middletown police were notified of “possible sexual assaults concerning children,” according to an Aug. 11 Middletown police report. Officers took DVDs, videotapes and a computer during a search of his Bavarian Drive apartment. Middletown police Detective Janice Jones said the materials were “some of the worst” she had ever seen.