Virginia man sentenced to nearly 10 years for rape of his sister in the 1970s

Rockingham County Courthouse
Rockingham County Courthouse(WHSV)
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 10:36 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - A Jetersville, Virginia man was sentenced to almost a decade behind bars for crimes committed decades ago in Rockingham County.

Leroy Lehman, 65, pleaded guilty to counts of rape and indecent liberties with a child in Rockingham County Circuit Court on Tuesday afternoon. The sexual assault happened throughout the 1970s in a Mount Crawford Mennonite community. The victim is Lehman’s younger sister, Alice Lehman.

Alice brought the accusations to the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, but it declined to prosecute the case in 2014 because Alice claims that bishops in the Pilgrims Mennonite Conference told the investigator that she was a “troublemaker” and “needed to find peace.”

Alice was connected with Never Stand Alone USA, an organization that supports victims of sexual abuse. Last year, she tried again and brought the case to Rockingham County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst who decided to prosecute the case in July 2021.

After Leroy’s sentencing on Tuesday, Garst told WHSV that she applauds Alice’s courage to come forward all these years later.

“I also hope that there will be a message sent that sexual abuse, no matter how long ago, will not be forgotten and survivors will always be honored and protected,” Garst said.

In a previous interview with WHSV, Alice said the serious abuse was happening dozens of times a week from when she was a young child and Leroy was in his late teens. She said the reason she came forward was to protect future generations from similar abuse.

”I don’t want my life to end without making some sort of an effort to try to raise awareness and to make it clear to people like Leroy that you can’t do this and get away with it,” Alice said. “I don’t care if you’re Mennonite or what you are.”

Alice was not present in court during Tuesday’s sentencing.

Leroy Lehman was sentenced to 10 years in jail, with one year suspended, and five years of supervised probation upon his release. He must pay Alice $5,000 for counseling services, have no contact with her or his other sibling, Phillip, and will be allowed no unsupervised time with minors during his probation.