WARREN - Within a week of being found competent to stand trial, a 22-year-old Warren woman pleaded guilty to raping an infant girl, another relative and recording the acts on a cell phone.
Felicia Banks Beemer chose to say nothing as she was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison by Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay. The sentence gives her the opportunity for parole after 15 years.
Felicia Banks Beemer, foreground left, pleaded guilty Wednesday in the rape of an infant girl and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Her attorney, John Fowler, foreground right, looks on.
Tribune Chronicle / Christopher Bobby
Beemer's husband, Cody, 23, pleaded guilty to similar charges in June and was sentenced to life in prison with a chance at parole after serving 25 years.
Assistant county prosecutor Diane Barber said Cody Beemer's plea offer was stiffer because he had a prior criminal record and was a registered sex offender.
Felicia Beemer's attorney, John Fowler, said his client was clearly less culpable than her husband and has no criminal record.
''I think the court understands Felicia has serious mental issues too,'' Fowler said.
Beemer was arrested for participating in the rape of the 9-month-old girl and charges of pandering obscenity of a minor, since police say the sexual attacks were recorded on the cell phone during a supervised visit with the infant at Trumbull County Children Services offices. The two counts of rape carried the potential life-in-prison specifications.
Barber said in court that the couple's cell phone was turned over to police by a relative, then examined by state forensic experts, who retrieved photos showing the rapes of the child and the rape of a young male relative they were baby-sitting later.
Also taken off the phone were 532 acts of minors in sex acts gained from Internet sites.
Fowler said his client gave birth to four children, including the first who was born out of an act of rape. She no longer has custody of any of the children.
Relatives have criticized Children Services since another daughter of the girl, Tiffany Sue Banks, was immediately taken into CSB custody after her birth in June 2007 and later killed by her foster mother, Bonnie Pattinson of Newton Falls. Pattinson was sentenced to nine years in prison.
CSB officials acknowledged they had relaxed the supervised visitation for the Beemers prior to the rape. At the time of the incident, caseworkers were checking in on the trio in "timed intervals" during the weekly two-hour-long visits.
Court records showed CSB was aware of Cody Beemer's history, which includes sexually assaulting a 3-year-old girl as a teenager and abusing Felicia.
The girl, now 2 years old, likely will be adopted by foster parents in northern Trumbull County, who, according to records, have provided her with exceptional care despite the girl's ongoing health problems prompted in part because her mother smoked throughout her pregnancy.
The allegations also prompted several lawsuits and two investigations, including one into CSB's practices and policies surrounding supervised visitation and a criminal investigation by BCI to see if the agency was criminally negligent. A special prosecutor recently presented findings to a grand jury which declined to issue any indictments.