A jury found a Milan Township man guilty Wednesday on ten counts of rape for the repeated abuse of two young girls.
Joseph Wagner, 62, of Mudbrook Road, is now awaiting a June 23 sentencing for the crimes.
Between early 2011 and early 2013, Wagner abused the girls at his Milan Township home, oftentimes luring them to his bedroom on nights they slept over at the residence, according to Erie County Common Pleas Court records.
After six days of testimony from detectives, police officers, relatives of Wagner and relatives of the girls, jurors found Wagner guilty of ten counts of rape—five each for both of the victims.
Additionally, a teacher, a counselor, a social worker and other individuals closely involved with the case spoke to the jury about their own interactions with the girls before and after the allegations against Wagner came to light.
Wagner himself never took the stand, but two family members testified of his physical health problems which Wagner's defense attorneys said prevented him from committing the acts.
Both of the victims, however, took the stand. One of the girls, age 7, told the court how Wagner would do “bad things.”
In her closing arguments, Erie County assistant prosecutor Mary Ann Barylski said Wagner's attorneys kept changing their reasoning on why Wagner was not guilty throughout the duration of the trial.
First the attorneys claimed Wagner had physical problems that prevented the abuse. Later, they accused another man altogether of committing the acts, Barylski said.
But Barylski's arguments ultimately won out. The jury deliberated for multiple hours Wednesday morning, and returned Wednesday afternoon with a guilty verdict on all ten counts.
Barylski later told the Register she was happy for the verdict on behalf of the victims.
“I hope they can heal,” she said.
Wagner will returned to Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Binette's courtroom June 23 at 2:30 p.m., where he will be sentenced for the crimes.