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Triadelphia man sentenced for rape

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A Triadelphia man will spend more than a decade behind bars after pleading guilty to the rape of a 12-year-old girl.

Joshua Steven Webster, 34, of 2335 Dement Road, heard his sentence Monday from Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra. The crime is a felony of the first degree that occurred in 2019 and 2020.

Vavra reviewed case records, saying Webster claimed to have been drunk on one occasion when assaulting the child. According to court documents, Vavra said Webster’s admissions “were cavalierly made, selfishly, and with no mention of regret, sorrow, or contrition” and “defendant has not shown genuine remorse. … This court finds that Defendant must be severely punished as a message to his victim and a warning to others.”

Webster was designated a Tier 3 sex offender and upon release will be required to register his address with the sheriff of his county of residence every 90 days for life.

Belmont County Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan said the matter came to the attention of the Bellaire Police Department as a result of an investigation in West Virginia.

“They had received some information from the Ohio County Prosecutor’s Office that there could be an issue that involved Mr. Webster … and a relationship that Mr. Webster had,” Flanagan said. “The person that he was having a relationship with did in fact have children, and so the Bellaire Police Department started an investigation. It’s a very thorough investigation. I believe the (Belmont County) Department of Job and Family Services was also part of that investigation.”

Flanagan said he could not speak to whether any of the offenses occurred in West Virginia. Webster may be facing further charges as a result of an ongoing investigation across the Ohio River.

“We do know that it did happen in Bellaire,” he said. “We are extremely pleased with the investigation that Bellaire had done. Without their efforts, we would not have gotten the conviction. We’re very appreciative of their work.”

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