Melvern man waives preliminary hearing on child rape charges

A Melvern man accused of rape and indecent liberties has waived his preliminary hearing and instead will face arraignment on the charges on April 21 in Osage County District Court.

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. During the start of his scheduled preliminary hearing on Feb. 19, a young witness’ emotional plea to not testify kept the hearing from proceeding and it was postponed. On March 5, a hearing for a motion by the prosecution to allow the witness to testify by closed circuit television testimony was rescheduled for March 13 and the preliminary hearing was postponed indefinitely per a request by defense attorney James Campbell.

During the motion hearing yesterday, Hartpence waived his right to preliminary hearing and the case was set for arraignment at 11 a.m. April 21 before Osage County District Judge Phillip M. Fromme.

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 younger than 14 years of age, and on another occasion during the same time period engaged in lewd fondling or touching of another child younger than 14 years of age. 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.

See related story here.


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