Rape suspect appears in court

ST. CLAIRSVILLE Ralph O’Neal Stillbower, 61, incarcerated, was arraigned Thursday before Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato on two counts of rape, felonies of the first degree occurring Feb. 25, 1994, and one count sexual battery in loco parentis, a felony of the third degree occurring Aug. 1, 2011.

He pleaded not guilty. His pre-trial and plea agreement deadline were set for Sept. 16, with trial Sept. 19. His bond of $1 million was continued.

It is alleged that 19 years ago Stillbower began committing the offenses against two boys during a two-year period at a Shadyside residence. The alleged victims only recently made their accusations.

The charge of sexual battery came from an alleged incident with a 17-year-old during a six month period.

He was tracked down and apprehended in Columbus, Indiana.

Prosecutor Chris Berhalter noted that Stillbower had made numerous continuances requesting his own council and the continuance of a preliminary hearing.

“There are allegations involving children under the age of 13. Based upon the evidence that was gathered and presented to the grand jury, they returned two counts of rape and one count of sexual battery. Each count of rape carries with it the potential of life in prison,” he said.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com