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Mentally ill rapist denied break on 10- to 20-year prison sentence

Patriot-News - 12/12/2017

Dec. 12--A mentally ill rapist who forced a woman to perform oral sex on him at knifepoint wasn't punished too harshly with a 10- to 20-year prison sentence, a state Superior Court panel has ruled.

Instead, a Montgomery County judge who compared Marshall Gibson's crime to the actions of a wild animal was right to lock him away from the public, state Judge Jack A. Panella concluded.

Police said Marshall Gibson of Doylestown was 18 when he walked into tanning salon and asked to use the bathroom in February 2015. They said Gibson cornered a 25-year-old employee in a room, held a knife to her throat and assaulted her.

Gibson pleaded guilty but mentally ill to rape charges. When he imposed the prison term, which exceeds that aggravated range of the sentencing guidelines, county Judge Gary S. Silow described Gibson's crime as being "comparable to what an animal would do."

On appeal, Gibson argued that his sentence is "manifestly excessive" and doesn't take into account his mental health issues and his rehabilitative needs.

Panella found that Silow did weigh those needs, but also gave justifiable weight to the terror Gibson had inflicted on the victim, who didn't know Gibson.

"The impact of a forcible rape on a victim should not be ignored," Panella wrote. "Nor should the protection of the public be ignored, given the fact that...Gibson committed this crime due to his mental illness.'

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(c)2017 The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.)

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