September 2, 2014

Medina
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Man, 51, gets life for sex act on girl, 10

MEDINA — A judge sentenced a 51-year-old Medina man to life in prison Tuesday for his conviction last week of performing an oral sex act on a 10-year-old girl in December 2012.

T. Wade Higdon, of 810 Ridgeview Drive, was convicted Thursday after jurors deliberated for 4½ hours.

T. Wade Higdon, 51, right, will spend 25 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him of performing an oral sex act on a 10-year-old girl. Higdon, right, was found guilty of the forcible rape of a child under age 13, a first-degree felony punishable by a mandatory life sentence with parole eligibility. Also pictured are Higdon’s attorney David Sheldon, center, and Medina County Assistant Prosecutor Scott Salisbury, left. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

T. Wade Higdon, 51, right, will spend 25 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him of performing an oral sex act on a 10-year-old girl. Higdon, right, was found guilty of the forcible rape of a child under age 13, a first-degree felony punishable by a mandatory life sentence with parole eligibility. Also pictured are Higdon’s attorney David Sheldon, center, and Medina County Assistant Prosecutor Scott Salisbury, left. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

He was found guilty of the forcible rape of a child under age 13, a first-degree felony punishable by mandatory life in prison with parole eligibility at 25 years.

Ohio law defines rape to include sexual conduct with a child younger than 13 involving penetration of any kind.

Investigators said at trial that amylase, an enzyme found in bodily fluids and especially saliva, was found on the girl’s underwear. DNA in the enzyme matched Higdon’s DNA, they said.

At Higdon’s sentencing hearing Tuesday, the judge gave the girl’s mother a chance to speak.

“You betrayed her trust and stole her innocence,” the woman told Higdon. “Find it within yourself to tell the truth.”

Higdon’s attorney, David Sheldon, said his client insists he’s innocent.

“Mr. Higdon has been unwavering in his innocence on this matter,” Sheldon told Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier, “and he has not changed that since the verdict.”

Sheldon said his client intends to appeal the verdict, but said he would not be representing Higdon. Collier said he would appoint a new attorney for the appeal.

Collier labeled Higdon a Tier III sex offender, meaning he’ll have to register with the Sheriff’s Office every three months for the rest of his life if he’s released from prison. In addition, he would be on parole for five years.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.