The much-delayed trial of 28-year-old Ronald Paris Jr. began Monday afternoon with the seating of the jury and heard opening statements from four witnesses in the case. One day later, the defendant decided to accept a plea deal from the prosecutor.

In the plea deal, Paris plead guilty to all charges against him, which included raping a 14-month-old child in 2019, harassment with a bodily substance, obstructing official business, and criminal damaging or endangering.

The Youngstown man was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison and will need to register as a tier 3 sex offender.

In Dec. 2019, Paris waived his right to a speedy trial and a new trial date was set for March 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic closed the courtrooms, which led to another delay for the Paris trial.

The trial has been delayed ten times since his arrest, mostly from the pandemic-related delays or from the additional charges, which stemmed from an incident in January where Paris allegedly threatened his attorney and the judge over the delays. 

Jennifer McLaughlin, chief of the criminal division for the Mahoning Co. Prosecutor's office told 21 News the secondary charges of harassment stemmed from Paris' spitting on deputies. "It's been a long road [for the victim's family]..." McLaughlin said. "...But given what the defendant did to this little girl, I hope he is never paroled," she added.