Belmont County Jury Convicts Charles Olman of Raping 7-Year-Old Girl
ST. CLAIRSVILLE – A jury found Charles Olman guilty Friday of two counts of first-degree rape of a 7-year-old girl.
Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato set Olman’s sentencing hearing for Aug. 6. A pre-sentence investigation and victim impact statement were also ordered.
Olman faces life without parole.
The jury returned a verdict after three days of testimony and close to five hours of deliberation following closing arguments Friday. Olman was accused of committing the offenses between 2018 and 2020 before the victim made her disclosure.
During closing arguments, prosecution and defense attorneys summed up their interpretations of the evidence and the many variables of the case. These included the tumultuous home life where the crime took place, the issues surrounding the child’s disclosures, and the medical evidence that Assistant Public Defender Aaron Miller said cast doubt on the case.
Belmont County Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan said this was an example of a caretaker abusing a position of trust over a vulnerable child, and the disclosure was made after Olman was no longer in the girl’s vicinity. He asked the jury to adopt a child’s mindset when considering the testimony.
Miller asked the jury to refrain from judging the evidence based on emotion, and to look at the facts and apply common sense. He suggested there were signs in the interviews that the child had been coached and that there were some inconsistencies with the number of alleged rapes.
“She likes to tell stories. All little kids like to tell stories, and as time progresses, her story becomes greater,” Miller said. “It’s easy to crucify someone on an allegation, even if that allegation is false.”
Flanagan said there was no evidence to back up allegations of coaching.
“What would you have to believe, if you believe that (the girl) was a liar?” Flanagan said.
Medical evidence also factored into the case, specifically that the girl’s hymen was intact. Flanagan referred to testimony from the nurse examiner about numerous cases in which the hymen was intact and there were no signs of trauma. He said the testimony indicates intercourse does not automatically damage the hymen.
“Do not bring those tales or fables that maybe somebody told us when we were 13 or 14 years old into this courtroom. Believe the science,” Flanagan said.
“No tears, no scars, no abrasions,” Miller countered. “Even with a scope, there’s no micro-injury. None. From an adult male who has supposedly (raped) a 7-year-old.”
The jury returned a guilty verdict.
Olman reacted with apparent disgust upon hearing the verdict. After the jury left and as he was placed in restraints and taken to jail to await sentencing, he directed an insult to a woman in the courtroom who had no connection to the case.
“We are very satisfied with the verdict by the jury,” Flanagan said afterward. “Their attentiveness throughout the week led to them coming to the conclusion that they did.”
He also commended the investigators and interviewers who worked on the case.
“Whenever you deal with a case involving child sex abuse, especially when you have a child that has … limited ability to focus on the task at hand, it makes these cases very difficult,” Flanagan said, adding this was the second case in two months where a child had to take the witness stand and testify. In this case, the victim has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
He added that the offenses would have begun when the girl was 5 or 6 years old.
Such cases can be difficult “especially when the children are so young, and in this case the child suffered from ADHD as well as post-traumatic stress, so therefore it made it even harder to sue her as a witness,” Flanagan said. “Nevertheless we did, and she did a phenomenal job.”
Flanagan added that he believes Olman to be a repeat offender, although he has not been convicted of any similar crime. Jurors heard testimony from Olman’s son, now serving time in prison for a sexual offense against a minor girl, who claimed that his father raped him as a child.
“With this particular individual, we are going to ask that the judge not allow for parole. This individual has a string of victims that he has left behind, and so not only are we seeking to do justice in this case, but also for some of the victims in which there was never a prosecution decades ago … ,” Flanagan said. “And those were not in Belmont County.”