GATE CITY — A man who fled to Scott County to avoid the investigation of child sex crimes in Ohio will now serve life in prison for the abuse of a Southwest Virginia girl.
On Thursday night, Ronnie Wayne Clark, Norwich, Ohio, was convicted on charges of sodomy, object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery, indecent exposure to a child, child abuse causing serious injury and child cruelty. A Scott County jury handed down three life sentences — plus an additional 40 years — and a $200,000 fine.
The crimes reportedly occurred in 2016 and 2017, when the victim was 7 years old. According to information released by the Scott County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, the victim endured “horrid, repeated sexual abuse” at the hands of Clark, who was staying with relatives of the child.
The reason Clark was in Scott County, according to prosecutors, was to avoid criminal investigation in Muskingum County, Ohio. There, he had previously sexually assaulted a child. When he left Scott County in 2017 and returned to Ohio, he victimized a third juvenile.
Clark has since pled guilty and served 24 months for the crimes in Ohio, then was extradited to face the charges in Southwest Virginia.
During this week’s trial in Scott County, Clark took the stand in his own defense. Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Boyer reportedly got Clark to admit he “was in love with child victims in Ohio” and “liked little girls.”
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office says Clark’s conviction was the result of a yearlong investigation by numerous agencies, including the Department of Social Services and police in Ohio.