La PORTE — A Westville man could be facing up to 18 years in prison after being found guilty of rape by a jury in La Porte County Circuit Court on Wednesday.
The Level 2 felony conviction means Dennis Ronk, 44, could be sentenced to between three and 18 years, with a prosecutor’s advisory of nine.
Rock was also found guilty of burglary, a Level 3 felony, and confinement, a Level 5 felony.
The incident occurred in early April of last year when Ronk encountered a woman, with whom he had previously been acquainted, at the American Legion in Union Mills. The woman was out with her father that night and told prosecutors she wanted Ronk to leave her alone.
The two were sitting on opposite sides of the bar, with plenty of distance between them, she said. Video surveillance showed Ronk tried coming up to her when she got up to use the jukebox, and when her father got up to use the restroom.
The footage also showed what appeared to be a verbal altercation between the woman’s father and Ronk. Although the surveillance footage did not have audio, it appeared the two were arguing about Ronk’s alleged pursuance of the woman.
After leaving the Legion, Ronk allegedly entered the woman’s Union Mills home using a key that may have been copied without the homeowner’s consent, prosecutors said. Upon entering the home, he found it to be empty except for dogs, which he let outside.
Some time later on, the woman returned home and began to cook herself dinner, and Ronk snuck up behind the woman and grabbed her phone out of her hand, prosecutors said. The woman reported being unable to escape Ronk’s alleged attack. She attempted to run up the stairs but was caught by Ronk, who grabbed her by her hair and dragged her before holding her down.
The woman’s injuries appeared “consistent with her version,” according to deputy prosecuting attorney Julianne Havens.
The woman suffered several visible injuries, including bruising on her arms, legs and left temple. Her face was bruised from where Ronk allegedly held her against the floor, prosecutors said. She also suffered some internal injuries, including an abrasion on her cervix that, according to testimony, could have been indicative of forceful intercourse.
Ronk was also found to have suffered injuries, including visible bruising and several scratch marks along his face.
After about an hour and half of deliberation, the jury came back with guilty verdicts on all three charges. Ronk was taken into custody directly after close of the trial. A sentencing date is expected to be set within 4-6 weeks.