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Shawn J. Lawson Jr.

Athens serial rapist sentenced to 40 years in prison

An Athens man was sentenced to 40 years in prison for serial rape Tuesday.

Shawn J. Lawson, Jr., 26, pleaded guilty to 11 counts related to serial rape and sexual assault in the Athens County Court of Common Pleas, according to a news release from Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn. The charges against him were:

  • Three counts of kidnapping
  • Three counts of felonious assault
  • Two counts of rape
  • Two counts of aggravated burglary
  • One count of attempted rape

“Lawson, Jr. will spend the next 40 … years of his life in prison, and hopefully, this will allow all of his victims time to heal,” Blackburn wrote in the release.

Lawson will also have to register as a sex offender after his release from prison.

The arrest of Lawson followed an investigation by multiple state and local agencies that lasted more than 10 years.

In January 2016, Lawson’s DNA was linked to three sexual assaults in Athens that occurred in June 2006, June 2015 and December 2015, but his identity remained unknown. In each of the three attacks, Lawson sexually assaulted college-aged women who were walking home from the Uptown Athens area late at night.

In March 2017, Lawson was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Lancaster, according to the release. His DNA was then linked to the three assaults in Athens. Lawson has since been charged with that sexual assault as well.

Lawson is believed to be responsible for a number of other sexual assaults, but the victims of those assaults do not wish to testify in court and are satisfied with the 40-year sentence, according to the release.

In May, Blackburn credited Lawson's arrest to Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine’s sexual assault examination kit testing initiative and the actions of local detectives.


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