NEWARK – As Christopher Forncrook asked for leniency from Licking County Judge Thomas Marcelain Tuesday morning, he said he took full responsibility for his actions.
After apologizing to his victim, Forncrook said he knew better than to plan to meet up with a 12-year-old for a sexual encounter.
“I used the gap in our age to take advantage of the situation,” he said. “I obviously made a horrible mistake … I understand I must be held accountable for my actions.”
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Forncrook, 41, of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, entered guilty pleas Tuesday to one count each of kidnapping, a first-degree felony; and gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony.
On Nov. 6, Forncrook met up with the 12-year-old in Newark then transported her back to his hotel room in the Columbus area, Assistant Licking County Prosecutor Paula Sawyers said.
While in the hotel room, Sawyers said Forncrook and the girl engaged in sexual contact, including kissing and fondling over clothing.
Forncrook, an emergency medical service provider, had been in Ohio for training and had sought out the girl when he knew he would be coming to the area.
Forncrook had taken the girl shopping at a store when his wife called to tell him the police were asking where he was, Sawyers said. He then drove the girl back to Newark so she could return home.
“It could have been much, much worse with a different type of person,” Sawyers said.
Forncrook met with police officers in the lobby of his hotel and admitted to meeting up with the girl and to knowing how old she was.
After his arrest and release on bond 43 days later, Forncrook sought out mental health treatment in Wisconsin, his attorney, Diane Menashe, said.
Menashe sought a community control sentence, citing Forncrook‘s lack of a criminal record or traffic ticket, the fact Forncrook had sought out treatment and completed it well and his life circumstances.
Menashe said her client’s divorce from his wife was finalized on June 1 and his father had passed away about five weeks ago from cancer.
“This is that unique case where (community control) is appropriate,” she said.
Sawyers argued for a prison term of between five and seven years, saying Forncrook picked an easy victim and took advantage of her vulnerability.
“The actions alone speak louder than words,” she said.
The victim’s mother also spoke, asking for a prison term. She said her daughter now flinches when men walk by and doesn’t ride her bicycle. Despite counseling, her daughter is continuing to struggle.
“Such a short period of time is something she’ll always remember,” she said.
Marcelain acknowledged the work Forncrook had done to treat his mental health issues and the initiative he had shown, but ultimately decided a prison term was appropriate.
“As a parent, you recognize the nightmare — a parent‘s worst nightmare — to realize their child has left the house with some stranger,” he said.
Marcelain ordered Forncrook to serve four years in prison and register as a Tier III sexual offender every 90 days for the rest of his life.
He said Forncrook will likely be a good candidate for judicial release. Marcelain said the local supervision with early release is better than the state can provide on parole.
Forncrook will be eligible to apply for early release after serving six months of his sentence.