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Rapist who preyed on elderly sentenced to 80 to 160 years

| Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2001

PITTSBURGH: A McKeesport man, once suspected of breaking into homes throughout Westmoreland County, was given what tantamounts to a life sentence Tuesday for raping two elderly women and robbing a third woman in Allegheny County.

Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey A. Manning sentenced Jonathan Paul Jones, 36, to 80 to 160 years in prison.

'Short of taking someone's life, your conduct here was as vicious, brutal and despicable as can be perpetrated upon another human being,' Manning told Jones.

Manning also determined Jones is a sexually violent predator.

The judge said a life sentence was suitable in this case, but he could not impose it because the state Supreme Court ruled a portion of the so-called Megan's Law unconstitutional.

In October, a jury convicted Jones of two counts of rape, aggravated indecent assault and robbery, three counts of burglary and one count of simple assault.

He was acquitted of raping a 69-year-old Monroeville woman in April 1998. She testified that although she was attacked in her home, she was not raped. She had initially told police she was sexually assaulted.

Jones, who was acquitted in 1996 of a burglary in Washington Township two years earlier, was suspected in many break-ins, mostly at homes of elderly people, throughout Westmoreland County.

He was not brought to trial for a second burglary because he was not tried within one year, as required by law, according to Westmoreland County court records.

Allegheny County police got a break in their investigation with the help of Washington Township police.

The description given to them by the three women matched the description of a Westmoreland County burglar, records state.

Also, police noticed that the assailant's mode of operation was similar. He often demanded money from the victims and then searched their purses and drawers.

Jones continued to maintain his innocence Tuesday, claiming he was wrongly prosecuted and that the evidence did not warrant a conviction.

'You arrested, tried and convicted the wrong man through unfair judicial means,' Jones told the court. 'I've been maliciously labeled a serial rapist and I'm not.'

During the trial, the prosecution revealed that the DNA of the seminal fluid found on a victim matched Jones' DNA and the chance of someone other than Jones committing these crimes was one in two quadrillion.

Manning emphasized that fact when Jones' court-appointed attorney Suzanne Filiaggi reiterated Jones' claim of innocence.

'That is as conclusive as it gets,' the judge said, referring to the DNA evidence against Jones.

Relatives of one victim, who has died, addressed Jones and urged Manning to ensure Jones gets a lengthy prison term.

'You're the lowest means of scumbag in today's society,' the victim's grandson told Jones. 'You'll never be considered a man. ... Thank God for DNA evidence. ... I wish you a long, agonizing term in prison.'

Jones' relatives told the court that the defendant was a kind, caring father and doubted he could commit the crimes for which he had been convicted.

Jones, too, said he did not know the victims and although he had a criminal past, he had committed no sexual crimes.

'The only thing I have done in my life is make babies,' Jones said. 'I don't know what the prosecution did. I am not a rapist. I was making babies. My sex life is quite fine.'

The rapes occurred in September 1994 in East McKeesport and April 1998 in Clairton. The victim in Clairton, an 89-year-old woman, died in 1999.

The first victim, now 85, was asleep when she was sexually attacked in her bed and later locked in a closet.

The third victim, from Monroeville, said she was attacked in April 1998 when a man grabbed her from behind, dragged her to her bedroom and robbed her.

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