Rape case sent to grand jury

A Washington County grand jury will soon hear the case against a Marietta man accused of raping an 11-year-old girl while out on bond on a different sex charge.

Neither Phillip Edward Aaron Pruden, 33, of 852 Greene St. Apt. 2, nor the victim testified during Pruden’s Wednesday preliminary hearing in Marietta Municipal Court but the case was bound over for grand jury consideration.

Pruden, who is currently incarcerated for unlawful sexual conduct with a 15-year-old juvenile, is accused of having sex with the 11-year-old girl on multiple occasions-“more than three or four times” according to the victim’s guardian who wept as she recalled the girl coming forward about the sexual abuse two weeks ago.

“I asked her specific things. I knew there was only one way she knew those things. We are a Christian family. I monitor what they watch,” said the victim’s guardian.

According to Patrolman Katie Warden of the Marietta Police Department, the most recent two instances of rape occurred in August. At the time, Pruden was out on bond and awaiting sentencing in the first case.

Pruden was arrested in March for his sexual relationship with the 15-year-old and sentenced Aug. 27 to six months in the Washington County Jail for the resulting third-degree felony count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

At the time of his sentencing, Pruden expressed tearful remorse and his attorney Rolf Baumgartel said he was a good candidate for community control instead of a prison sanction.

Pruden wiped away an occasional stray tear during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing, but mainly kept a blank expression as the witnesses recounted the girl’s graphic descriptions of sexual encounters, which happened in Pruden’s bedroom and in the basement of his apartment complex, said Warden.

Warden also listened to several recorded phone conversations that Pruden made from the jail. In one conversation, Pruden’s mother simply says the name of the victim and Pruden begins apologizing profusely, but never admits to specific incidents, said Warden.

The victim’s guardian also confronted Pruden over the phone while he was incarcerated.

“I asked if there was anybody else involved and how long it went on,” she said.

Pruden indicated sexual misconduct with the victim had been going on for more than a year, she added.

However, he denied the victim’s allegation that actual sexual intercourse had taken place, said Warden.

“He said it never went that far,” she said.

According to a statement of facts from the Marietta Police Department, “The defendant stated that he knew doing these things to (the child victim) were wrong but that he had a difficult time stopping himself.”

The testimony provided enough probable cause for Marietta Municipal Court Judge Janet Dyar Welch to bound the case over to Washington County Common Pleas Court for possible indictment by the grand jury.

Pruden is currently charged with a single first-degree felony count of rape, which carries an 11-year maximum prison sentence. However, he could possibly face more charges when his case is presented to the grand jury.

His bond in the rape case is set at $100,000 but cannot be posted until Dec. 25 when Pruden is set to be released on the unlawful sexual conduct charge.