Man avoids life term with plea in rape case

A convicted sex offender accused of joining two other men in raping a teenage girl pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Shawn Love, 39, avoided a possible life sentence without parole with his plea in Richmond County Superior Court.

In exchange for Mr. Love's cooperating in the prosecution of his co-defendants -- Yutavis M. Cavitt, 26, and Tyrone Bonds, 20 -- the prosecutor agreed to reduce the charges to child molestation.

Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet accepted the plea deal and sentenced Mr. Love to 20 years in prison. He told Mr. Love he would reconsider the sentence after the co-defendants' cases are closed.

The prosecutor said the three men raped and sodomized a 15-year-old girl April 28. Mr. Love's DNA was found on the victim, and he infected her with a sexually transmitted disease, Assistant District Attorney Philip Catalano said.

As Mr. Catalano told the judge the facts of the case, the victim suffered a violent seizure in the courtroom. She recovered and was able to see Mr. Love sentenced.

The seizures began after the sexual assault, Mr. Catalano told the judge.

Because of Mr. Love's prior felony convictions -- including rape -- he faced a mandatory life sentence without parole if convicted of the most serious charge, aggravated child molestation.

Defense attorney Barry Middleton of the public defender's office said Mr. Love denies there were any threats or violence involved.

He reserved further remarks on Mr. Love's behalf until a reconsideration hearing with Judge Overstreet.

Mr. Cavitt and Mr. Bonds have pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated child molestation and child molestation. Their cases are pending.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.