A Charleroi man convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl several times over a two-year period didn’t receive a life sentence, per se, but his chances of ever leaving prison would seem extremely slim.
Washington County Judge Katherine Emery sentenced Paul R. Graham Jr. to 142 to 284 years behind bars after a jury convicted him of all 17 counts he faced, including rape, Sept. 17.
Graham, 52, of 408 Oakland Ave., maintained his innocence during sentencing Monday and claimed the accusations were a plot against him by the victim and her parents. Emery said that defense was not believable.
“Why would a parent make a child lie to put someone away?” she said. “They would never have done that.”
Investigators said Graham sexually assaulted the young girl between February 2003 and June 2005 at homes in Dunlevy and Speers. The victim, who is now an adult, testified during the trial after coming forward with the allegations in 2012.
The jury convicted Graham after just 45 minutes of deliberations.
“She was a very credible witness,” Emery said. “She showed a lot of courage.”
The charges of rape of a person younger than 13 and four counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse each carried a mandatory 25 to 50 years in prison and will run consecutively. Graham also was convicted of aggravated indecent assault, statutory sexual assault, indecent assault, corruption of a minor, child endangerment and furnishing alcohol to minors.
His defense attorney, Sally Frick, said he plans to appeal the conviction, although she will not represent him during the appellate phase.
“He contends, for whatever reason, that the victim made up the story,” Frick said.
The girl told investigators that Graham would often baby-sit her while her parents worked and that the assaults started when she was in second grade. She said he touched her inappropriately, would have her take off her clothes and tried to force her to engage in sex acts, although she resisted. He also showed her pornographic movies and gave her wine to drink.
Graham has been in the Washington County jail since Charleroi Regional police arrested him in June 2012.