Fort Wayne man sentenced to nine years in prison on rape charge

A Fort Wayne man who was charged with raping an 18-year-old young man during three days of drinking, drug use and partying in July 2016 was sentenced Friday in Allen Superior Court to serve nine years in prison followed by four years of probation.

Robert Clippinger, 50, of Lot 74, 10326 Old Leo Road in the Apple Valley Mobile Home Park, was sentenced to 16 years in prison, but Allen Superior Judge John Surbeck ordered seven years of that sentence suspended as part of a plea agreement between Clippinger and the Allen County Prosecutor’s office.

The plea agreement called for Clippinger to plead guilty to one count of rape, which he did Aug. 29. He was charged Jan. 10 with three counts of rape and one count of sexual battery for the attack that took place from July 14-16, 2016, at his residence, court records said.

The plea agreement gave Surbeck the discretion to set Clippinger’s total sentence at whatever he deemed appropriate, but the prison time could be not less than three years and no more than nine years. Surbeck gave him the maximum prison time allowed by the plea agreement. He also ordered Clippinger to have no future contact with the victim or his family.

In return for Clippinger pleading guilty, the prosecutor’s office agreed to dismiss the additional counts of rape and sexual battery.

The events leading to the charges began July 14, 2016, when a number of people gathered for a party at Clippinger’s home and all reportedly became intoxicated, court records said. Clippinger allegedly performed a sex act on the victim early the morning of July 15, 2016, while the young man was in a bedroom.

That evening, the same group of people and a few others reportedly gathered at Clippinger’s house, where they allegedly began drinking whiskey, vodka and mixed drinks while smoking marijuana, court records said. After the male victim reportedly vomited and passed out on the front lawn, Clippinger told another party-goer to urinate on the young man. That man refused, but another reportedly did so, which was recorded on a cellphone.

People then carried the victim inside and put him in Clippinger’s bed, court records said. People at the party told Allen County Sheriff’s investigators they later saw Clippinger go into the bedroom two separate times and allegedly perform a sex act on the victim.

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, Clippinger declined to an offer to speak on his own behalf.

His attorney requested Surbeck give him the minimum sentence possible, saying Clippinger has been employed and has four children. He also said Clippinger hasn’t had any felony convictions and successfully completed probation on a previous misdemeanor charge. His client also took responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty.

The victim’s mother and grandmother both also made statements.

The victim’s mother said Clippinger reportedly had threatened her son’s life, and the family lives in fear of him. She also accused him of manipulating people into bringing young people to his home.

“I’m petrified if you let this man out of jail,” she said. “Please, please give him the maximum sentence. He deserves it.

The victim’s grandmother said they were proud of him for telling his parents what had happened. She also expressed worry for some of the other young people who attended parties at Clippinger’s house.

When pronouncing Clippinger’s sentence, Surbeck said his guilty plea was a mitigating factor, but it was “far, far outweighed by the facts of the case.”

Another man charged in the incident, Franklin B. Meehan, of the 2900 block of Old Orchard Road, pleaded guilty Aug. 28 to a misdemeanor count of battery and was sentenced to 180 days of probation. In exchange for Meehan’s guilty plea, a more serious charge of sexual battery was dismissed at his sentencing.

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