Columbus, OH – A child rapist sentenced to three life sentences has now been paroled.
Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Lindsey Sheehan had urged the parole board not to release 54-year-old Mark Sprague at a hearing in January.
“He is at a huge risk to commit another sexually oriented offense," Sheehan told the members of the parole board.
"We couldn’t protect Christopher in 1994 but we can protect the children in this community in 2018," he added.
“I represent the victim in this case. I represent the state of Ohio, frankly, in the technical sense, and I’m the voice of this young person that was so viciously abused by a person who is beyond redemption,” Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser told KUTV.
“Now the Parole Authority said, 'Well, he’s not planning to have more children.' He’s being released with a hope and a prayer that he doesn’t have more children,” Gmoser explained.
Sprague pleaded guilty to the rape and felonious sexual penetration of his 22-month-old son 23 years ago.
Sprague’s crimes were discovered when the toddler’s mother, Della Sprague, struck him hard enough to cause a vein to rip near his heart, killing him.
“This child died at 22 months,” Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser told WKRC. “He was not alive to express his objections to what happened to him. His tears, his crying, is what probably caused his death by his mother. Because what would you expect to have with rectal tearing in a child still in diapers.”
Despite Sheehan’s warning that Sprague was an “impulse sex offender” who was likely to reoffend, the Ohio Parole Board voted to release the sex offender on Oct. 1.
During the parole board hearing, both of Sprague’s sisters appeared and told the board that while they wanted to help, their brother could not come live with them in Kentucky.
Despite the lack of family supervision, the parole board ruled he could be paroled to a halfway house in Columbus, or one in Cincinnati, where he committed his crimes, WKRC reported. He cannot be around children, and he must register as a sex offender, the board ruled.
WKRC reported the 2,500 people had signed a petition that asked the parole board not to release the child rapist.
Christopher’s mother, Della Sprague, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges in 1995, KUTV reported. She claimed that she accidentally killed the toddler when she was hitting his back because he was coughing.
Della Sprague has since been released from prison.
Her husband was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 10 years.
Gmoser said he considered Sprague an accessory to the toddler’s death.
"The child probably was crying as a result of the sex - the deviant sexual misconduct," Gmoser told WCPO. "What would you expect from a 22-month old child having been assaulted in that manner? Of course he's going to be crying continuously, and the mother stopped it lethally."
During the hearing, Sheehan pointed to the flimsy excuse Sprague offered the court for raping his baby boy.
“I was thinking about having sex, and my wife wasn’t there. So I guess I just see my son sleeping there. I didn’t understand why. Just before I knew it, something happened,” Sheehan quoted Sprague as having told investigators.
But the parole board disagreed and said Sprague had “served a sufficient portion of his sentence, has completed institutional programming to abate his risk to reoffend and has been maintaining an acceptable institutional adjustment,” KUTV reported.
Sprague completed two sex offender programs and a substance abuse program while he was in prison, WKRC reported. His release on Oct. 1 was a result of his second attempt to get parole.