Rape suspect’s trial delayed after 11-year-old victim dies in fire

Prosecutors seeking delay in trial of Robert Seman, Jr.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Mahoning County assistant prosecutor has asked for the trial of a man suspected of rape to be delayed after the girl who prosecutors believe to be his victim was one of three people who died in a house fire early Monday morning.

Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin asked for the trial of Robert Seman, Jr., 46, to be delayed Monday. His trial was scheduled to begin Monday at 8:30 a.m.

McLaughlin also said that the Youngstown Police Department believes Seman tried to bribe a potential witness in the case. McLaughlin called Seman a “danger to the public.” Authorities have revoked bond for Seman.

Goshen Police arrested Seman on March 15, 2014, after court authorities issued a warrant for his arrest. A Mahoning County Grand Jury later indicted Seman.

The victim’s mother contacted police March 10, 2014 to report that her daughter told her Seman had been engaging in sexual conduct with her for several years.

The girl was a fourth-grade student at South Range Elementary and had been a student there since kindergarten, according to school Principal Steve Matos.

South Range Schools administrators are providing grief counselors for students Monday and will make those counselors available at the district’s K-12 campus Monday evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to a press release sent by the school district.

The counselors will also be available starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to the release.

Firefighters arrived at a house at 3631 Powers Way on Youngstown’s south side around 3 a.m. Monday after neighbors heard an explosion and called 911.

Firefighters searched the house and have confirmed that three people died in the fire. Prosecutors confirmed in court that the three people were the girl believed to be the rape victim and her grandparents.

Neighbors said a couple and their granddaughter lived in the house and that the grandparents were deaf.

The windows of the house were shattered, but firefighters were not sure if an explosion occurred.

Firefighters at the scene said they believe the fire started in the basement but were not sure of the cause of the fire.

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