CONNEAUT — Police arrested a man Friday morning on charges of sexually assaulting two girls multiple times over a number of years.
James Bowers, 56, of 620 Buffalo St., was arrested around 6 a.m. on five counts of gross sexual imposition and 23 counts of rape, officials said. Bowers, who was indicted by an Ashtabula County Grand Jury Tuesday on the charges, is currently in the Ashtabula County jail.
County Prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci said the 23-count rape indictment involves 11 counts that occurred when the victim was younger than 10.
“The first eleven counts of this indictment allegedly occurred when the victim was less than 10 years of age, which would result in a 15-year to life sentence if convicted of any of those counts,” Iarocci said in an email.
The remaining counts allegedly occurred when the victim was 10, 11, or 12 years old, which would result in an 11-year sentence for each count if he is convicted, Iarocci said.
Bowers, who babysat the child, is accused of first sexually assaulting the victim when she was 7 years old, and it continued until she was 12 years old.
In the five-count gross sexual imposition case, Bowers is accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old during the summer of 2016.
“The child was visiting a neighbor of Bowers at this time and would also visit Bowers, who had a swimming pool at his residence and would entertain the alleged victim and other children at his pool during the summer of 2016,” Iarocci said.
Police had spoken with one of the victims during an unrelated investigation and she disclosed information about Bowers, according to Conneaut police Det. Taylor Cleveland. It took courage for the young woman to do so, Cleveland said.
“The last incident that happened was in 2016,” Cleveland said. “The kids were brave enough to come forward and disclose what had been going on.”
Police searched Bowers’ home in September and they found evidence that corroborated the testimony of the victims. Bowers, who is not a registered sex offender, made some admissions regarding his conduct, Cleveland said.
“He has no prior history,” Cleveland said.
The investigation was bolstered through the work of the Signature Health Child Advocacy Center, Cleveland said. The center in this case provided counseling and medical services for the victims in a professional environment where they could discuss what had happened.
These factors led to a successful investigation, Cleveland said.
“I think the reason you may see more child sexual assault cases being resolved favorably is because of the work that the Child Advocacy Center is doing,” Cleveland said.