NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 11, 2022) – A Baltic man will be spending three years in prison for sexually abusing a child.
Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Elizabeth Thomakos selected the punishment this morning for 35-year-old Daniel Wardell Senior, who previously pleaded guilty to a single count of gross sexual imposition and had a rape charge against him dismissed. Wardell used his opportunity to speak not to apologize but to explain why he agreed to the arrangement.
“I was basically in a rock and a hard place – five years or life. It was either fight it and [try to] prove my innocence and get life in prison if the jury said that they didn’t believe me or take a deal for 1 to 5 years.”
Thomakos told Wardell that the fact that he was friends with the victim’s family and her young age at the time made the act more heinous, also noting the lack of remorse he had shown during the proceedings.
“You’re even sitting here today after pleading guilty to the offense disclaiming any responsibility. You’ll be going with the deputy now.”
The abuse occurred in 2017 and 2018 when the victim was between 7 and 8 years old. She didn’t speak in court but provided an impact statement that a victim’s advocate read during the hearing. She described Wardell as the monster that continues to haunt her.
“The pain and anxiety and saddness I have felt over the last five years since you did this to me are indescribable. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD. It makes sense why I have trouble expressing my feelings, why I am uncomfortable around male adults, why I’m uncomfortable at school and have a hard time fitting in… You took advantage of a child that trusted you. I can only hope and pray that your children and family never experience the trauma that you have caused me and my family.”
Wardell will be on parole for five years if he serves the prison term in its entirety and must register for the rest of his life as a Tier III sex offender.