November 2, 2012: 43-year-old Charles Finch was sentenced today by the Honorable Genece E. Brinkley to 20 to 40 years in prison for raping a sixteen-year-old girl who suffers from severe cerebral palsy. The victim was the daughter of Finch’s girlfriend at the time, and after being released from prison for unrelated charges, Finch moved back in with his girlfriend. Two days after moving into the apartment on the 5900 block of Addison Street, on January 4, 2009, Finch snuck into the victim’s bedroom and brutally raped her.
The victim was born with cerebral palsy and has struggled her entire life to overcome the challenges presented by this increasingly debilitating condition. The child’s cerebral palsy severely limits her ability to verbally communicate and has left her without the use of her legs and almost no use of her arms and hands. She is confined to a wheelchair. To report the crime to police, the victim used a touch-screen device to communicate what had happened. However, by the time of trial, she had lost most of the dexterity in her hands and was required to communicate verbally although her speech is limited to sounds and short words. An expert familiar with the victim’s speech patterns was permitted to translate her responses so they were intelligible to the jury. It is believed this is the first time in Pennsylvania history that such an expert has been employed to assist a speech-impaired person to testify.
The case was prosecuted by John O’Neill who stated at sentencing today, “The victim showed extraordinary courage in overcoming her disabilities to speak up and obtain justice. The jury’s verdict and the Judge’s sentence are sending a clear message to all predators in the city. We will protect our most vulnerable citizens, even when they suffer from mental or physical disabilities that make it difficult for them to communicate.”