South Florida

He confessed to raping a 4-year-old and figured time was on his side. He was wrong.

John Sheehan awaits a verdict in a trial in which he’s accused of raping a 4-year-old girl in 1990 and 1991.
John Sheehan awaits a verdict in a trial in which he’s accused of raping a 4-year-old girl in 1990 and 1991.

A former merchant marine should have boned up on criminal law before he confessed last year to raping a 4-year-old girl, according to police.

West Palm Beach police arrested 76-year-old John Joseph Sheehan on a charge of sexual battery of a victim under 12, CBS12 reported.

According to police, Sheehan thought the statute of limitations of seven years protected him from prosecution since the alleged rape happened in March 1990 and then again in March 1991 when the girl was 4 and he was 49.

But the statute does not apply to sexual battery.

Sheehan, testifying before a jury at the Palm Beach County Courthouse on Thursday, thought the statute applied in his case because, “I heard it on the news,” the Sun Sentinel reported. He now says his confessions were lies that he made because he thought that’s what cops wanted to hear.

The accuser, now 31, reported the rape in 2008, when she was 21. The case was revived by detectives in 2016.

Sheehan is awaiting a verdict Friday.

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