Ex-reservist White gets four years in teen rape

Byron P. White

DOVER — A clearly emotional former Dover Air Force Base reservist maintained he didn’t know the age of a 14-year-old girl he impregnated during a relationship he was arrested for last year, but that was irrelevant in Superior Court Monday.

Byron P. White had already admitted to two felony counts of third-degree rape and was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Vivian L. Mendinilla. Three years of Level III probation will follow and the 34-year-old Camden-Wyoming resident was ordered to register as a Tier II sex offender, among other conditions.

Two 25-year prison sentences were suspended for the minimum mandatory time, but Judge Mendinilla indicated to the defendant that any violations of probation after what was the most lenient sentence possible came at the risk of significant added incarceration.

“It’s up to you how you serve your time, (which can be quietly and then you’re done),” the judge said near the end of an approximately 45-minute session. “You do not want to see me again.

“If you do not comply you will see me again.”

The judge urged White to “take advantage of the resources in prison” and he was “certainly young enough to move on” with his life after serving the sentence.

Speaking before the Court, White claimed several times that he wouldn’t have had sex with the girl if he knew her true age. They first met anonymously online, according to the investigation.

“It eats away at me that it ever occurred with (an) underage (person),” White said. “I’m not trying to come across as insincere or not remorseful but that’s the way people are taking it.”

There was no overlooking, however, that a 14-year-old child had indeed been involved in a sexual relationship that police investigation said began in May 2017 and culminated with White’s arrest at DAFB, the Court said. He’s been held by the Delaware Department of Correction since Feb. 13, 2018, his effective sentencing date.

“You don’t really understand, you’re not quite getting that there was an offense (against a juvenile),” the judge told White, who was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation and follow any recommended programs, counseling and/or therapy.

Judge Mendinilla considered mitigating factors such as White’s previously clean record, character reference letters provided during a pre-sentence investigation, background as a Boy Scout and military service, among other positives for him when considering the punishment. Also, the judge believe that White was looking for underage companionship when he first met the girl online.

Also, the judge said, “I recognize that the girl played a significant role here” and “You are old enough to know better.”

No contact order

A no contact order for any children under age 18 other than supervised visits with family members other than White’s son was ordered, pending any future Family Court rulings. Also banned was any interaction with the girl, her family and residence.

As the hearing neared a conclusion, White’s mother expressed concern that the girl was supposedly trying to contact him on Facebook. The judge told her several times to “shut it down” as the woman continued to explain the situation.

White was to tell his probation officer immediately if any contact was attempted, and he was responsible for living up to the no contact order, according to the Court.

The judge did not find that any bans or limitations for White’s future online activity were warranted.

The girl and her family were not present at sentencing and Deputy Attorney General Kathleen Dickerson explained it was “because they’re dealing with a small child and a teenager.”

In asking for an “upper end” number of years according to sentencing guidelines, Ms. Dickerson stressed her belief that White “seems to show absolutely no remorse” and at times has been “trying to make himself out as the victim.”

While the prosecutor acknowledged that the girl “made some bad decisions on her part” the defendant “should have known her age. There were all the indicators.”

Defense attorney John Garey noted that White was “previously an upstanding person” and there was “really no evidence that Mr. White was seeking” sex with a minor.

Mr. Garey asked for concurrent sentencing, which could have brought as little as two years prison time, but the judge opted for consecutive punishments.

Earlier, White said he had hoped to plead to a misdemeanor offense and perhaps maintain benefits that could be used in raising his son.

He said he was not being properly represented by findings in the PSI, but the judge countered that “you have expressed how wronged you feel” and that “there was no conspiracy.”

According to a Delaware State Police news release at the time, an investigation began on Dec. 19, 2017 when the Troop 3 Major Crimes Unit received information through a Division of Family Services hotline that a 14-year-old female had reported allegations of sexual abuse. Further investigation found that “the incidences were reported to have occurred at the victim’s residence located in Dover.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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