Shawn Lawson appears in Athens County Common Pleas Court on May 9. (Susan Tebben/WOUB News)

Serial Rapist Gets 40 Years

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An Athens man hunted by local law enforcement as a serial rapist admitted to his crimes and received four decades of prison time on Tuesday.

Inmate ImageShawn Lawson, 26, formerly of Hawks Nest Road, changed his plea to guilty in Athens County Common Pleas Court, and was sentenced to 40 years in prison by Judge George McCarthy.

Lawson was charged in May with three counts of kidnapping, three counts of felonious assault, one count of attempted rape, two counts of rape and two counts of aggravated burglary. The cases were reported to have occurred on June 11, 2006, June 20, 2015, and Dec. 12, 2015.

During the plea hearing, one victim read a statement for the court, saying her life changed in a matter of hours.

“I feel more for the (other victims) than I do for myself, they went so many years without having any justice,” the victim said.

Other victim statements were read by Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Pepper.

“The damage that (Lawson) caused is irreversible,” Pepper read on behalf of one victim. “I still live in constant fear.”

The victims told investigators the different situations in which Lawson assaulted them. One incident happened on an Athens street, when Lawson jumped on a woman and choked her. The woman was able to escape before Lawson was able to rape her.

Another victim felt like she was being followed as she walked home at night in Athens. Lawson knocked on her door after she returned home and forced his way in. A third woman said she woke up to Lawson on top of her.

During Tuesday court appearance, Pepper said Lawson had admitted to all the actions for which he was accused.

Lawson also pleaded guilty to one count in a Lancaster rape case, which was brought to the Prosecutor Keller Blackburn’s attention after the initial investigation began.

The pleas came after reaching an agreement with the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office. Sanderson said it was Lawson’s decision to approach the prosecution with the request for a deal.

“Mr. Lawson has taken responsibility for his actions,” Sanderson said.

Lawson addressed the victims when asked if he wanted to make a statement.

“I’m sorry…I’m so sorry,” Lawson said.

Sanderson said Lawson plan to seek counseling to find out the reasoning behind his crimes.

“That’s a life and a mindset that is so foreign to all of us that we will never understand,” Sanderson said.

A mandatory sentence of 32 years was included in the 40-year sentence, and Blackburn asked that Lawson not be considered for judicial release at any point in his sentence.

Blackburn said the sentence was the longest sentence in the court’s history, outside of life sentences. The maximum penalty Lawson could have received was 93 years.

Lawson will also be required to register as a Tier III sex offender for the rest of his life, upon his release from prison.