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Friday, July 14, 2017

Fort Thomas Man Sentenced To 27 Years For Rape, Sexual Abuse

Ryan Schomaker. Campbell County Detention Center.  
Stephen "Ryan" Schomaker, 35 from Fort Thomas, was sentenced to 27 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in April to rape, sexual abuse, and promoting a sexual performance by a minor in a case involving an 11-year old girl. He turned himself in to authorities on May 19 and has been housed in the Campbell County Detention Center since then.

He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. 

The victim's mother and grandmother, via the victim, read statements to Judge Julie Ward before she sentenced Schomaker, who looked straight ahead and down during the proceeding. Schomaker acknowledged his guilty plea to the judge in writing, but did not address the court. 

"I wish he would have accepted responsibility out loud in the court room. Sometimes saying a couple of words to the family goes a long way," said Campbell County Commonwealth's Attorney, Michelle Snodgrass. 

She and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney, Sheryl Heeter, prosecuted the case. 

The victim, now 13, sat feet away from her former abuser in front of the judge. She had her maternal grandmother read a statement. In it, she addressed Schomaker directly. 

"Going through all of this has been agony!  I’ve been scared, nervous, and uncomfortable for years thanks to you. I don’t understand how you could do this to me. You only care about yourself.  I don’t understand how you manage to do this and mess up your whole life. 

It’s amazing to see how many people care about me. I’m glad they all listened and now you get to go away and not hurt me or anyone else anymore."

The victim's mother held the hand of her daughter as she read her statement. 

"No child that is being abused or mistreated should be scared to speak up or ask for help.  She was. She was scared of what you might do to her so she kept quiet.  She was scared everything around her would change, it did.  She was scared that people wouldn’t believe her and unfortunately there are still some people that don’t.  People that she used to call family. 

"Her innocence was stripped from her.  But thankfully she eventually had had enough.  She spoke up and told the ugly truth about what you had been doing for years.  You deserve every second of the next 27 years that you spend behind those bars."

Snodgrass addressed the victim directly during court proceedings to commend her on her strength.  

"Most people wouldn’t have the strength that you had to confront the person who did this to you. We wouldn’t be here had you not come forward," she said. "An important message that I wanted to get through to you was that you're not a victim anymore. Today you became a survivor. You made it through this and got the justice you deserved." 

The victim's mother also addressed her daughter in court. She referred to her as her "hero". 

"You have saved so many young girls from abuse.  Not just other kids that he may have come into contact with but also young girls and even grown women that hear your story and see your strength and decide to speak up against their abusers too.  You are a blessing to all of us."

Background of the case
The Fort Thomas police were notified in December 2015 of reports that Schomaker had criminal contact with an 11-year old girl, who told her mother that she had been touched inappropriately.

The Children's Advocacy Center conducted a forensic interview leading to a search warrant that led investigators to the defendant's home. Schomaker's phone and tablet were examined by federal officials and photos were discovered that corroborated the victim's statement.

Fort Thomas Police Det. Adam Noe was the lead investigator on the case. The case was accelerated when Noe noticed detailed images of a man's fingers in a photo on the seized phone. He brought the images to the Kentucky State Police’s lab in Frankfort where fingerprint analysts used a computer to isolate the fingerprints shown in the photos. Several of the sexually exploitative photographs depicted the ridges of the photographer’s fingers and finger joints.

It was a rare find. Kentucky State Police Forensic Latent Examiner Supervisor Paul Dorman, said the techniques used in this case has only happened three times in the U.S. prior to this instance.
"I've been in police work for over fifteen years and I've never had a case that has affected me like this one," said Noe, after hearing Schomaker plead guilty.

Fort Thomas Police Lt. Rich Whitford said it was one of the toughest cases, mentally the department had worked. 

"We worked almost two years with the victim and her family to try to get some closure for them. Detective Noe did a fantastic job, thinking outside the box to even think about getting the fingerprint on the photos for evidence.  The defense tried to put the police department on trial in this case, and it didn't work," he said. "We will learn from this case as we do in all cases and will work to improve and try our best to provide the most professional service to our residents."

Schomaker enters the Judge Ward's courtroom behind his attorney Adam Bleile in April to plead guilty. FTM file. 
Snodgrass applauded the work of the Fort Thomas Police in this case, not only for their persistence, but for taking the victim seriously from the start. 

"The Fort Thomas Police fought extremely hard for the victim. It was their forward thinking and innovative approach to the evidence that made sure it was enough to secure a conviction," she said. 

"But most importantly what they did was they listened to her and they believed her."

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