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Child Rapist's Hearing Infuriates Judge

COLUMBUS (Terri Sullivan/Ken Hines) -- A judge expressed outrage over the terms of a plea deal while sentencing a man to five years in prison for the rapes of two girls.

Whitehall resident Michael Bruce was sentenced on Tuesday morning after pleading guilty to raping two sisters -- ages 12 and 17 -- whose mother he had been dating.

Bruce's attorney told Franklin County Judge Julie Lynch his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of various stints in the military, from which he was honorably discharged.

Judge Lynch was not moved by the revelation.

"You're a rapist. You pled guilty," Lynch said. "You've raped two children. You have destroyed their lives. You have ruined them."

Bruce met his victims after he began dating their mother via a website, and allegedly raped each girl while on short car trips.

The victims' grandmother read a statement written by the 17-year-old girl at Bruce's sentencing hearing.

"He started acting weird. I was scared. He did the worst thing he could do to me," the statement read, in part.

Lynch sentenced Bruce to five years in prison, which was agreed upon in a plea agreement with prosecutors, but the judge made sure to leave no ambiguity regarding her feelings about the deal.

"You better be thanking your lucky stars because I do take joint recommendations," Lynch said. "But this one is a hard pill for me to swallow today. You raped two young girls,  a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old, and you're going to prison for five years. That's a gift. You're walking out of here with a gift."

Upon his release from prison, Bruce will be required to register as a sex offender.
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