GREENFIELD — Prosecutors this week asked a judge to dismiss the rape charge a Fortville man had faced, days before the case was set to appear before a jury.
Justin Goble, 34, 15 S. Main St., Fortville, pleaded guilty to two lesser assault charges Friday after prosecutors dismissed a Level 3 felony count of rape brought against him last year.
Goble pleaded guilty in Hancock County Superior Court 1 to two lesser charges, one Level 6 felony count of criminal confinement and one Class B misdemeanor of battery after Judge Terry Snow granted the state’s motion to dismiss the rape allegation.
Goble was arrested a year ago after a woman came forward, accusing the man of sexual assault. Both the defendant and victim have intellectual disabilities;
but prosecutors said they were confident Goble understood what he had done was wrong, officials said.
The woman told police she had recently met Goble and at his Fortville apartment on the night of the incident, according to court documents.
She told police Goble became angry because the internet wasn’t working, then turned violent, court documents state. She said Goble held her down and assaulted her, court documents state.
Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said closing the case out of court was in the victim’s best interest.
Taking the case to trial would have forced the woman to testify in court, and Eaton said his attorneys were concerned about the woman’s ability to recall every detail about what Goble had done to her. Doing so might have caused her greater harm, he said.
In order to settle the case, prosecutors decided to drop the rape charge, knowing that Goble would plead guilty to the remaining counts, Eaton said. That ensured Goble would be held accountable for what he had did while bringing some justice for the victim, he said.
Goble, too, might have had difficulty understanding the proceedings, officials said.
As the judge asked Goble during Friday’s hearing if he understood the nature of the charges he faced, what he was pleading guilty to and the potential penalty, the defendant repeatedly asked for time to speak with his attorney, Edward Walter of Greenfield. Walter would then carefully explained what was happening to his client.
Snow at one point asked Walter to verify if Goble truly understood what he was admitting to and what the potential ramifications would be. Walter told the court that he’d spoken to Goble and his family at length about the decision and he believed Goble understood the accusations against him and the plan to move forward with a guilty plea.
Goble’s case would have been the first rape case to be argued before a Hancock County jury in nearly a decade, records show.
In September 2007, a Fortville man was found not guilty of rape along with charges of criminal confinement, criminal deviant conduct and sexual battery at the conclusion of a three-day trial in Hancock County Superior Court.
Goble returns to court of sentencing Feb. 8. The Level 6 felony he’s pleaded guilty to carries a maximum penalty of 2½ years; the Class B misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 180 days.