ST. JOSEPH — A Three Oaks man who raped a young girl will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Berrien County Trial Court Judge Gordon Hosbein has sentenced Ronny Scoggin, 71, to six consecutive terms of 25-60 years, pointing out that it would be 150 years before the man would be eligible for parole. 

It’s been a long road for the young victim and her family. Scoggin was arrested Nov. 3, 2016, and in July 2017, before going on trial, he pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and five counts were dismissed. A plea deal with prosecutors included a sentencing agreement that Scoggin would serve a minimum of 18 years. He would have been 87 when first eligible for parole. 

At sentencing by Judge Arthur Cotter in 2017, Scoggin apologized to the victim and his wife for what he had put them through. But in 2018, he took advantage of a mistake by Cotter and withdrew his guilty plea. He said the judge had never stated on the record that Scoggin, if ever released from prison, would be subject to lifetime tether monitoring. Cotter reviewed the court transcripts and said that although Scoggin’s lawyer at the time knew about the requirement, it was true it had not been put on the record at the time. 

Cotter said it pained him greatly but he had no choice but to grant Scoggin’s motion to withdraw his plea. Scoggin was sent from prison back to Berrien County and the case was then transferred to Judge Hosbein for trial and sentencing. 

At his trial in May, it took a Berrien County jury just under 30 minutes to find Scoggin guilty of six counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Throughout the trial, the jury heard from the girl, now 10, about how Scoggin had molested her on several occasions and in various ways when she was 6 and 7. 

The jury also heard from four adults who testified they were sexually assaulted by Scoggin when they were children. Scoggin’s behavior with the latest victim came to light after, on May 23, 2016, his wife, Virginia Scoggin, walked into their motor home that was parked in their driveway and found her husband semi-nude with the girl, a frequent visitor to the house. 

The young girl told the jury she did not tell anyone what had been happening because she was afraid of Scoggin and did not want him to hurt any other children. Berrien Assistant Prosecutor Cortney O’Malley said Scoggin stole the girl’s childhood and innocence.

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