Crime

Lock Haven man sentenced to prison for sexual assault of mentally disabled woman

A Lock Haven man was sentenced Friday to serve at least nine years in state prison for sexually assaulting a mentally disabled woman.

Gary Gephart, 54, was sentenced by Judge Thomas K. Kistler to nine to 18 years for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of a person with a mental disability and five to 10 consecutive years for aggravated indecent assault. Upon release, he will also need to register as a lifetime sexual offender.

The conviction stems from a 2012 incident in which Gephart went to the victim’s State College apartment to return a VCR and help her with repairs, according to a police report. Upon entering the apartment, Gephart offered the victim a massage. The report says the victim obliged and followed Gephart’s instruction to remove her shirt. Gephart then digitally and orally assaulted the woman despite her requests for him to stop, the report said.

The woman told a caregiver at the apartments about the incident a few days later, and State College police began an investigation.

The victim said she was unable to sleep in the bed where the incident occurred, the report said.

A jury found Gephart guilty in September 2015 after a two-day trial.

Much of the jury’s decision hinged on determining whether the woman had the mental capacity to exercise reasonable judgment about consenting to sex. The prosecution called an expert witness, Dr. Michael Wolff, a licensed psychologist who works at Penn State who prepared a report on her mental capacity for State College police.

IQ tests performed earlier in her life determined she had an IQ of about 70, Wolff said. And based upon tests and meetings with the woman, Wolff said that she has a limited comprehension of sex that would render her incapable of making such judgments.

“Rape of a person with the intellectual abilities of a 9-year-old is indeed predatory behavior, and we are pleased that he is not a threat to anyone,” said Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller. “(Gephart) had 19 adult arrests and has been to prison multiple times, clearly unable to learn from his mistakes.”

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