A former Boyle County firefighter and longtime emergency medical technician pleaded guilty Thursday to having sexual relations with two minor girls and faces a likely prison sentence of at least 16 years.
Clarence A. Roller Jr., 40, entered an open guilty plea to two counts of sodomy and four counts of first-degree sexual abuse involving girls who were less than 12 and 14 years old when the incidents occurred between 2003 and 2011. Two of the sexual abuse counts alleged Roller masturbated in front of the older girl as recently as Aug. 15 of last year, about a week before he was arrested.
Roller, who was a lieutenant with the fire department and considered a “person of authority” under the law, was scheduled to go to trial next month in Boyle Circuit Court but entered the open plea to the original charges in a move that somewhat surprised prosecutors.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Bottoms said Roller had refused to accept a plea offer of a recommended sentence of 16 years in prison serving as a violent offender, meaning he would have to serve at least 85 percent of that sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
In an open plea, a defendant pleads guilty without having a deal in place with prosecutors. When Judge Darren Peckler issues Roller’s final sentence on Oct. 2, he has no obligations to consider the deal Roller rejected. In other recent cases involving an open plea, Peckler has added an additional year to the sentence recommended by prosecutors.
Roller’s attorney, Ted Lavit, said his client decided to plead instead of going to trial “because he didn’t want to put the victims to any embarrassment.”
Bottoms said he, too, was glad the victims wouldn’t “have to relive a traumatic experience” during a trial, but added, “The proof against him was overwhelming, and I feel confident it would have led to a conviction.”
Peckler ordered Roller to undergo a sex offender’s risk assessment before final sentencing.