An Elk County man was sentenced earlier this month to 20 to 40 years in state prison for abusing a young girl starting back in 2001.

In August, a jury found Charles W. Steele, 54, of Force, guilty of the assaults, court records indicate.

Steele was sentenced Dec. 2 in Elk County Court. In addition to serving the lengthy prison term, he must register for his lifetime as a sex offender.

Steele was convicted of the following charges: five counts each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, first-degree felonies; aggravated indecent assault without consent and aggravated indecent assault of a person less than 13, all second-degree felonies; indecent assault of a person less than 13 and corruption of minors, all first-degree misdemeanors.

According to area media, this was one of the oldest incidents that was still making its way through the system this year. First filed in 2005, Steele spent “significant financial resources” to delay the case. The case was reportedly refiled in 2016 based on new evidence.

A case filed against him in 2016 listed 510 charges, court records stated.

Senior Judge Richard Masson heard the trial and sentenced Steele.

Ridgway attorney John Thomas was appointed by the court to serve as stand-by counsel for the trial.

The Ridgway Record reported that Steele met the victim when she was about 4 years old and began grooming her a short time later.

Court records indicate there was a mistrial in 2018, and the case was rescheduled for trial this year.

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