Preliminary hearing set for Melvern man charged with rape, indecent liberties

A Melvern man charged with rape and indecent liberties will have a preliminary hearing on the charges at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 6, after appearing before Osage County Magistrate Judge Taylor Wine yesterday.

Ronald L. Hartpence Jr., 38, Melvern, was arrested Jan. 4 and charged Jan. 8 with two counts of rape and one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. All three counts are off-grid person felonies, and each carry a possible penalty of imprisonment for life with a mandatory sentence of not less than 25 years and a fine of up to $500,000.

Appearing in court yesterday, Hartpence was represented by attorney Shannon Rush, who said she was substituting for attorney James Campbell.

Rush entered a motion for bond reduction in the case. Hartpence is being held in the Osage County Jail on $300,000 bond. Rush requested that the bond be reduced or that Hartpence be allowed to be under house arrest with electronic monitoring, citing that he had support from his family and friends.

After conferring with Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones, who said the state’s position on the bond amount had not changed, Wine denied the motion to reduce bond.

Wine asked the attorneys when the preliminary hearing should be scheduled, and Rush said that it should be as soon as possible due to her client being held in custody. The judge then set the hearing for Feb. 6.

The complaint filed against Hartpence alleges that on two occasions between Sept. 1, 2011, and Nov. 27, 2013, he had sexual intercourse with a child under 14 years of age, and on another occasion during the same time period engaged in lewd fondling or touching of another child under 14 years of age.

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