HARRODSBURG — It took more than 30 years — and a young girl speaking out — for justice to catch up with Ricky Dale Ryan.
Ryan, 53, of Burgin pleaded guilty Monday in Mercer Circuit Court to multiple counts of rape and sexual abuse involving four victims under the age of 12. The earliest allegation dates back to 1980.
Judge Darren Peckler will formally sentence Ryan on Jan. 10.
Ryan was scheduled to stand trial Monday on the two oldest cases, which included charges of rape, sodomy and incest as a continuing course of conduct. One case ran from 1980-1986 and the other from 1986-1991. In both cases, the victim was less than 12 years old when the abuse began.
Ryan entered his guilty pleas to all charges before the trial began.
All of the victims were satisfied with the 15-year recommended sentence, Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Bottoms said Tuesday.
All were prepared to testify against Ryan, Bottoms said, but were thankful it did not come to that.
“It does spare the victims of having to relive from the stand what has already been a very traumatic experience for them,” he said.
Ryan’s conduct first came to light in May 2009 when a girl told a school counselor that Ryan regularly fondled her genitals. Those allegations led a social worker and Harrodsburg Detective Lt. Garry Bradshaw to begin an investigation.
As the girl’s claims were being investigated, a woman contacted Bradshaw and told him Ryan had raped and sexually abused her when she was a young girl in the late 1980s.
After Ryan was indicted in those two cases, another woman came forward with a similar story of abuse that began in 1980.
Finally, a fourth woman alleged she was abused by Ryan from 1999 through 2005.
“That was the key to being able to start these cases,” Bottoms said of the girl who reported Ryan’s abuse to her school counselor in 2009.
“She came forward to get the ball rolling, and the other victims had the courage to step forward and support each other.”
Ryan has been in jail since he was first arrested in May 2009 and has already served 2 1⁄2 years of his recommended 15-year sentence. Bottoms said Ryan likely will serve at least five more years before being eligible for his first parole hearing because of the nature of his crimes.
Before being eligible for a parole hearing, Ryan will have to complete a three-year sex offender treatment program, Bottoms said, and there currently is a long waiting list to get in such programs.
“I expect him to serve a minimum of 7 1⁄2 years before he gets before the parole board,” Bottoms said.
When he is released from prison, Ryan will have to register as a sex offender.