Rape suspect exchanged lewd text messages

A New Matamoras man who had been living in Marietta with his girlfriend was reportedly exchanging lewd text messages with the young girl he is accused of raping.

Richard L. Newlen, 29, of 317 Hutchinson Road, was arrested Friday for rape, a first-degree felony. He was also charged with attempted use of a minor in nudity oriented material, a fifth-degree felony, resulting from explicit messages and photos that he had sent and received from the 12-year-old female victim through text messaging.

“The defendant advised that he had given (the victim) a cell phone and that when his girlfriend wanted to look at it he removed the battery, disabling the phone,” said a statement of facts provided by the Marietta Police Department.

The defendant had been staying with his adult girlfriend at a Front Street residence where the victim, a Marietta resident, regularly visited a male friend her age, said Marietta Patrolman Dianna Hively.

“We have no evidence of other victims at this time,” added Hively.

On Thursday the Marietta Police Department received a call from the victim’s mother saying that she suspected Newlen had touched her daughter in a sexual manner and that she was going to confront him.

When a patrolman arrived, Newlen and his girlfriend were quarreling over the victim’s cell phone, said the statement.

Newlen stated that he was trying to hide the phone’s content from his girlfriend because he did not want her to see messages he sent stating he loved the victim.

Upon obtaining a search warrant for Newlen’s and the victim’s phones, officers discovered that Newlen had been sending nude photos of himself to the victim’s phone and that she in turn had sent a nude photo of herself to Newlen’s phone.

In addition, the phones showed that Newlen had sent explicit messages to the girl indicating that they had previously engaged in sexual conduct.

The victim admitted that she and Newlen had exchanged the messages and photos and that on June 24 he had engaged in sexual relations with her. The victim told an officer that Newlen had told her he was going to dump his girlfriend for her when she turned 18, according to the statement.

Newlen was arraigned Monday morning in Marietta Municipal Court on the charges. His bond was set at $250,000 for the first-degree felony and $5,000 for the fifth-degree felony.

A preliminary hearing to decide if there is enough evidence to send the case to a Washington County grand jury is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday.

If convicted of both charges, Newlen faces 12 years in prison.