Couple goes to prison for raping 12-year-old girl

Police said Lemon Twp. husband and wife spent time grooming the victim for sexual abuse.

“I don’t want him to die in prison,” she said of her 35-year-old son William Bayless, who is suffering from an undisclosed form of cancer. “I do understand it is required by law that he is punished.”

But the father of the 12-year-old victim had a much different opinion.

“I hope he dies in prison. I really do,” the single father of two girls said.

Butler County Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth sentenced William Bayless and his wife, Brenda Middleton-Bayless, 35, to seven years in prison Thursday and imposed a $10,000 fine. The pair also have been labeled Tier III sex offenders, which requires them to register their residence every 90 days for life when released from prison.

The couple pleaded guilty last month to one count each of rape and gross sexual imposition. They were both indicted on four counts of rape and four counts of gross sexual imposition, which could have resulted in life in prison, if convicted on all counts. The other charges were merged in exchange for the guilty pleas.

The charges stem from what police have said was an ongoing entanglement involving the couple, roommate Brandon Stidham and the juvenile at a Lemon Twp. mobile home park, according to Monroe police, who arrested the adults in March. Stidham was sentenced to six years in prison earlier this week after pleading guilty to attempted rape and gross sexual imposition.

Detectives said the adults spent time grooming the girl so that she could be easily victimized. It involved parties where they would shoot toy guns and play Dungeons and Dragons prior to engaging in sexual activity.

Bayless-Middleton smiled and talked with fellow jail inmates while she waited in the courtroom for her turn before the judge. But she cried when it came time to make a statement.

“I want just want to apologize,” Bayless-Middleton said. Her attorney, Lawrence Hawkins III said Bayless-Middleton has had a limited criminal past and is remorseful for her actions.

Bayless’ attorney David Washington said his client is embarrassed and has been honest about his involvement in the crime. He noted Bayless has no past criminal record.

Washington said Bayless has four years to live with chemotherapy treatment, but less than a year without proper medical attention.

The victim’s father told Spaeth, “they raped my 12-year-old daughter. Then wrote letters threatening my child. That’s all I can say ... I would like to do a whole lot more.”

Before imposing sentences, Spaeth permitted Opal Bayless to hug her son and daughter-in-law, whom she said “has had it very hard.”

The judge noted the defendants’ lack of a past criminal record, but added a pre-sentence investigation indicates Bayless-Middleton said she became a “surrogate mother” to the victim.

“Then you turned the relationship to sexual abuse,” Spaeth said.

After the sentencing, the victim’s father, a masonry worker, said his daughter is going to counseling and trying to recover.

“I don’t think it is enough,” said the father about the sentence.