LANCASTER, PA — A Lititz man was sentenced to 21 to 65 years in prison Tuesday morning in Lancaster County Court, announced Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams.
Melvin Petersheim, age 49 of the 600 block of Integrity Drive, entered a guilty plea in October regarding abusive conduct committed between 2012 and 2021 in Manheim Township.
The defendant was determined to be a sexually violent predator after defense counsel stipulated to an expert psychologist’s findings. Assistant District Attorney Fritz Haverstick prosecuted the case and submitted the psychologist’s curriculum vitae and SVP report, which Lancaster County Judge Merrill Spahn incorporated into the record.
“This case stood out notably because of the conduct itself, but also because some of the psychological things the victims had to go through,” Haverstick said. “The amount of bravery the victims displayed by not only coming forward but being involved in the process really struck me. They are very strong individuals.”
Haverstick stated the defendant told the victims not to tell anyone of the abuse and made them feel as if it was normal behavior. Haverstick asked for a minimum of 25 years in prison while defense counsel asked for 10 years minimum.
“I can’t overlook the nature of this conduct,” Judge Spahn said before ordering sentence. “This conduct is abhorrent. It’s a failure of the most basic right of a parent’s duty to do no harm to your children.”
On November 1, 2021, Manheim Township Police received a child welfare report from Lancaster County Children & Youth. Subsequent interviews with the victims revealed and detailed the abuse.
Petersheim entered a guilty plea on two charges of rape of a child, statutory sexual assault, three charges of aggravated indecent assault, four charges of unlawful contact with a minor, two charges of incest with a minor, three charges of aggravated indecent assault of a person less than 13, two charges of aggravated indecent assault of a person less than 16, four charges of corruption of minors, four charges of indecent assault of a person less than 13, and two charges of indecent assault of a person less than 16.
The defendant must register as a sex offender and follow the required guidelines for the rest of his life.
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