A Columbus man who has been linked to several rapes, including in Northeast Ohio, was sentenced Tuesday to 35 years in prison for the sexual assault of a 7-year-old girl.
Joseph Gaines, 42, was sentenced after he pleaded guilty in November to transporting a minor interstate with the intention of sexually abusing the victim, and committing a new offense against a minor as a registered sex offender.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, Gaines took the girl in the bunk of his semi-truck across multiple states during July and August 2019. He repeatedly sexually assaulted the girl, authorities say.
When the assaults occurred, Gaines was on parole from a 2005 conviction in Stark County for raping a 13-year-old in 1998, prosecutors say.
Gaines is linked to several other assaults. In 2000, he was convicted in Florida of kidnapping and attempted aggravated assault after approaching a woman on the beach, placing a knife to her throat, and saying, “you’re coming with me.”
Gaines’ DNA also linked him to two other rapes, authorities say. In 1998, he approached a 15-year-old girl on a street in Canton and threatened her with a box cutter before taking her into the woods and raping her, prosecutors say. Gaines’ DNA was found in the victim’s underwear.
In 2002, Gaines reportedly approached a married couple walking on the beach in Florida. Armed with a weapon covered by a towel, Gaines forced them to an abandoned building, where he raped the wife and forced the husband to watch, officials say.
“A multi-decade sentence is warranted for this defendant, whose ongoing actions reveal him to be a true predator,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker said in a statement. “Gaines spent much of the past 20 plus years – other than the times he was incarcerated – perpetrating dangerous sexual assaults. Now, he’ll spend the next 35 years in federal prison. This is the type of incorrigible conduct that prison walls are made for.”
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