YOUNGSTOWN - An Austintown woman who pleaded guilty to three counts of raping a child younger than 13 was sentenced on Thursday to 25 years in prison.
Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Maureen Sweeney handed the sentence down to Connie Ramirez, 43, without the possibility of early release or parole.
Ramirez was also designated a Tier 3 sex offender, requiring her to register with authorities after she is released from prison and serve five years of mandatory probation.
Along with the felony rape counts, she also pleaded guilty to a count of illegal use of a minor in nudity oriented material.
Ramirez pleaded guilty to the charges, which were included in a bill of information - a formal written accusation made by the prosecuting attorney.
Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Natasha Frenchko explained that presenting a bill of information saves anyone involved in a case such as this, including victims, from having to testify in open court.
She said her office had been in contact with everyone involved in the case and entered into the sentencing arrangement with Ramirez with the approval of the victim's family.
Prosecutors say they first became aware of Ramirez while investigating allegations of abuse by William F. Brock, 65, of Mason Street, Niles. Last week, a Trumbull County grand jury indicted Brock, reportedly known by neighborhood children as Santa Claus, on 35 counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor. He was arraigned on Wednesday and remains at the Trumbull County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond.
Federal, state and local law enforcement officials raided Brock's residence July 19 looking for child pornography.
Investigators said they found at Brock's home images of Ramirez, who had lived with Brock at one point, engaged in sex acts with juvenile females, including a relative, and other images of bestiality, some of which were recorded on a cell phone and sent to Brock.
Ramirez has been in the Mahoning County Jail on $500,000 bond. Investigators said she was a teacher at the TLCC Preschool and Day Care on Idlewood Road in Austintown for about 12 years.
Brock faces 16 counts of second-degree felony pandering sexually oriented matter and 19 counts of fourth-degree felony pandering.
The second-degree felony counts carry the potential of up to eight years in prison each and accuse Brock of creating, recording, photographing, filming, developing, reproducing or publishing the material involving minors engaging in sexual activity. The 16 allegations having different dates in 2012 also contain specific dates of known minor victims, including some of the area and some involving bestiality.
The 19 fourth-degree felonies that have maximum penalties of up to 18 months accuse Brock of possessing the sexual material that was found on his computer by forensic investigators.