Williamsport, Pa. — As John Francis Irwin, 71, of Muncy was led out of a Lycoming County Courtroom in handcuffs on Tuesday after his sentencing hearing, an onlooker said, “you got what you deserve you piece of sh*t.”
Irwin is guilty of molesting his two grandchildren, who were both below the age of 13, over the course of a four-year period from January 2014 to November 2017. At his sentencing on Tuesday, Irwin expressed only embarrassment during his time to speak. He mentioned his grandchildren at the tail end of his address, expressing that he hopes they would not hate him for his actions.
Irwin was charged with four counts of forceable rape of a child and pled guilty as part of a plea deal. The 71-year-old was given 20 to 40 years per charge. If he lives long enough to be released, he will be labeled a violent sexual predator for the remainder of his life.
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For four years, Irwin molested his two granddaughters, using his vehicle, place of employment, and several other locations to gain access to the young children, court documents said.
Irwin said during his final comments to the court, “I’m embarrassed. There are not enough words in the dictionary to express how sorry I am for what I’ve done.”
In 2019, after being charged with 98 counts of seven different felonies, Irwin was released on $100,000 unsecured bail. Despite being free, Irwin made no attempt to get counseling or help for what Lycoming College Director of Counseling and licensed psychologist C. Townsend Velkoff, M.S. said was a “lifetime” condition. Velkoff also called it a “mental illness” when asked to clarify for the defense.
Velkoff testified for the prosecution, saying, “[Irwin] displays sexual interest in children.”
In 1979 and 1981, Irwin was convicted of sexual crimes against children. In 1979, he was charged with indecent assault. In 1981, he was charged with indecent exposure. The 1979 case also included a family member as the victim.
Velkoff said Irwin displayed a pattern of sexual misconduct, expressing regret over the previous charges. Despite that remorse, along with promises made to his family about the safely of the grandchildren, Irwin committed the offenses.
Judge Ryan Tira, who handed down the sentence with a stern reaction, responded moments after Irwin addressed the court. To Tira, Irwin's claim of "embarrassment" was a selfish "concern for his reputation"--not his granddaughters, who were briefly mentioned.
The defense for Irwin argued for rehabilitation, claiming it should also guide a judge's decision, not solely retribution for a crime. Here, Tira challenged the defense. "Just four years ago these crimes were committed," Tira began a statement. "Nothing has been done to address rehabilitation since." Irwin did not enter therapy. Rather, Tira argued, he showed an ability to "ingratiate himself," or falsely convince communities members to place their trust in him.
Irwin was initially charged with multiple counts each of rape of a child, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, distribute explicit sexual material to a minor, indecent assault, and corruption of minors after an investigation in accusations.
Through his plea deal, Irwin pled guilty to four counts of first-degree felony rape of a child.
Irwin’s lawyer argued for a sentence of five to ten years, giving Irwin a chance to live the remainder of his life outside of prison. The arguments fell on deaf ears as Tira handed down a hefty sentence for each count of rape of a child.