By TYLER REYNARD
Former Ohio County sheriff's deputy Sean Marenkovic was sentenced to two to 10 years in prison Friday for the 2003 sexual assault of a then 14-year-old female.
A jury deliberated for nine hours over two days in August before finding Marenkovic guilty of two counts of third-degree sexual assault stemming from the events that occurred at his former apartment.
According to the now 22-year-old victim, the two met in an Internet chatroom and conversed online for about a week, some of those conversations being sexual in content, before Marenkovic suggested they meet outside his residence. Once inside, they sat on the couch and spoke briefly before the first sexual assault occurred, she said. The second of the two sexual encounters, both of which she said were consensual, occurred about one week after the first. After that, she said, Marenkovic ceased communication.
Authorities did not learn of the accusations until after the woman revealed the incidents to Ohio County Circuit Judge James Mazzone while she was a prospective juror in an October 2010 trial.
Between the crimes and the victim's disclosure, Marenkovic resigned from the sheriff's department, became engaged to a Wheeling Jesuit University student and moved to a Chicago suburb where he worked as a police officer. The 2002 West Virginia State Police Academy graduate then moved to Alexandria, Va., and was working as a metro police officer in nearby Washington, D.C. at the time of his May arrest.
Marenkovic maintained his innocence and cited his employment record with law enforcement while lobbying for alternative sentencing.
"I was never investigated or abused my power and I have received numerous commendations from civilians and supervisors," he said. "Your Honor, as you have to understand, this conviction is a living death sentence. There aren't many opportunities for a convicted sex offender and I will have to live with that label for the rest of my life. Everything has been taken from me."
Marenkovic's mother, [name withheld], pleaded with Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht on her son's behalf.
"My son, who has been the love of my life, all of my life, is sitting here before you," she said "... and all he ever wanted to do, from the time he was able to talk, was to be a police officer. He fulfilled that dream. Never once, prior to this, did anyone ever come forward, and since this, has anyone ever come forward, to accuse him of sexual assault. He has always tried to work within the letter of the law and I've been very proud of him and will continue to be proud of him. I'm asking for alternative sentencing. It would do more harm than good to put him in your already overcrowded prisons."
The victim, who said she has suffered from depression and anxiety in the eight years since the incidents, called for the maximum sentence.
"The crimes committed by Sean Marenkovic changed my life," she said. "Not knowing he had left the area, I have been scared for years I would see him again and that he would again abuse his powers as a deputy. He knew what he did was wrong. He was in the position where he should have stopped crimes like these and others from occurring, and instead he committed them himself, twice."
Ohio County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Turak said Marenkovic took advantage of his power as a law enforcement officer.
"Sean Marenkovic is not worthy of the badge," she said. "He is not above the law. He was entrusted with the power to protect and to serve, and he abused that."
In addition to his requirement to register as a sex offender, Recht ordered Marenkovic to be placed on supervised release for 20 years following the completion of his prison term.