Man pleads guilty to sexual abuse charges stemming from 2016 incident

MORGANTOWN — Before sentencing a man who pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse, the judge said she knew the sentence wouldn’t be popular.

“If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but I have to do what I feel is right,” Judge Susan Tucker, Monongalia County Circuit Court, said.

She sentenced Jonathan McCabe, 23, to one to five years in prison, but suspended it in lieu of two years home confinement. She also ordered him to visit every prison in the state by the end of the first year of confinement and write a report about what he sees at each one. She also ordered him to watch prison movies that were on a list provided to him. He was ordered pay $5,000 in restitution to the victim by the end of his home confinement and pay $1,000 to the Monongalia County Victim Assistance Program.

“I want you to suffer, I don’t doubt she is,” Tucker told McCabe.

McCabe entered an Alford Plea — essentially pleading to avoid trial.

She ordered he serve 150 hours of community service and said she wanted it to be the “hardest, most awful, disgusting” community service that “no one else wants to do.” McCabe is also required to keep full-time employment.

Tucker told McCabe  as a felon he’s lost the ability to obtain meaningful employment, his Army career is over, as is his schooling, but that he will go on.

She warned him that if he violates the terms of his confinement by “one iota” his next hearing would be “short and sweet.”

McCabe testified that he thought the encounter that led to his conviction was consensual, but that he misread the victim’s level of intoxication and signals.

He said  he went downtown with friends, the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day 2016, to celebrate a little early. He met the woman at Lux, a nightclub on High Street.

The woman fell several times on the trip back to the Grant Avenue apartment where McCabe was staying with a friend and at one point another person helped carry her.

Video played by the prosecution showed her falling down near the Mountainlair before McCabe picked her back up. It also showed McCabe and an unknown person helping the victim walk.

Defense attorney Raymond Yackel told the court that excessive drinking leads to this kind of situation all too often, but  after looking back at the night McCabe took responsibility and pleaded so she — and he — could move on.

A therapist specializing in sex offenders, Jack Torsney, said McCabe told him he shouldn’t have had sex with the victim and showed the ability to follow the rules — making him a good candidate for alternative sentencing.

Tucker also heard testimony from Tony Sainato, McCabe’s boss, and his grandfather, James McCabe.

Yackel asked the court to sentence his client to probation.

The victim’s mother told the court she had expected her daughter to graduate from WVU — the family school. After the incident her grades plummeted, professors and the school were unhelpful and unsympathetic and she dropped out. She said WVU is “not even an option” for her younger son.

She also expressed anger at how long it took to resolve the case.

“Trial and sentencing dates change like the wind, making closure seem impossible,” she said.

Her daughter was unable to make it to Wednesday’s sentencing, but would have been able to attend  one scheduled last month, or the month before that.

The woman told the court about the nightmares her daughter  experiences and how she’s lost the “sparkle in her eye.”

The Dominion Post does not typically identify the victims of sexual abuse.

Representing the state, Prosecutor Stephen Fitz told the court he believed McCabe had not shown remorse.

“Today we heard his testimony and he still believes it was consensual,” Fitz said.

He said McCabe already had his deal and asked for the statutory sentence of one to five years in prison.

“Five years from now, with his background, he will get through this,” Fitz said. “Thirty years from now [the victim] will still bear scars from being the victim of rape.”

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