Special to the OBSERVER
MAYVILLE - The Jamestown man accused of abducting and sexually assaulting a 12-year old girl has been sentenced to 25 years in prison and 20 years post-release supervision.
Eric L. Chant was sentenced to the maximum punishment Monday in Chautauqua County Court in front of Judge John T. Ward.
According to David Foley, county district attorney, the sentence means Chant likely will be supervised in one form or another for the rest of his life.
"We're very pleased we were able to get this sentence," Foley said. "He's going to be on the hook for this for the rest of his life, and we're happy to get some closure."
Monday's sentencing ends an 18-month-old case. According to police, Chant entered a home on Aug. 12, 2011, and abducted a 12 year-old girl as she slept in her living room with her parents nearby. Chant then allegedly forced her into a stolen van and took her to a secluded area on Scott Hill Road in Poland.
Foley said the girl was able to convince Chant to let her out of the van for a brief period, when she took the opportunity to run.
Chant was incarcerated in the Chautauqua County Jail on unrelated charges when he was announced as the suspect. He was held on a burglary charge out of Pomfret and an outstanding bench warrant out of Dunkirk City Court for assault.
The trial, which was plagued with setbacks in the jury selection process, officially began in September. However, before either side read their opening statements, the defense agreed to plead guilty to a first-degree rape charge.
The plea deal by and large was offered to spare the victim from having to testify, Foley said. The sudden resignation of a Jamestown police officer accused of mishandling evidence in various cases also played a role in the plea.
"We don't believe that the officer tampered with any evidence in this case, but it still creates issues," Foley said in September, referring to Detective Eric Corey, who resigned that same month.
Corey was charged with official misconduct in November following an investigation by the State Police. The charge is a class A misdemeanor and Corey could face up to one year in custody if he is convicted.
Chant had faced felony predatory sexual assault against a child, as well as two counts of first-degree rape, one count of second-degree kidnapping and second-degree burglary, all felonies, before taking the plea.
Chant will be transported and housed temporarily at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden. Foley said court proceedings involving Chant have wrapped up in Chautauqua County.