Updated Tue, Apr 1, 2014 3:40 pm
A Coolville man is being held on $250,000 bond after pleading innocent to charges of rape and gross sexual imposition of two juveniles.
Lance Nichols, 55, appeared in Athens County Common Pleas Court Monday and entered innocent pleas to an indictment charging one count of rape, a felony of the first degree, and four counts of gross sexual imposition, felonies of the third degree.
The rape allegation and two of the gross sexual imposition charges involve a 6-year-old while the other two gross sexual imposition counts involve a 9-year-old.
According to Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn, Nichols could face life in prison if convicted. The rape charge carries a sentence of 10 years to life due to the child's age. The children in the case are known to Nichols.
The incidents allegedly occurred between Aug. 1, 2013 and Feb. 6, 2014. Blackburn told The Athens Messenger that the original complaint was made to the Athens County Sheriff's Office on Dec. 25. Deputies gathered evidence and interviewed Nichols on Feb. 6. Based on the interview, Blackburn said, a date range for the incidents was alleged.
A grand jury returned an indictment against Nichols on March 24 and he was arrested this past weekend.
Blackburn said the high bond was requested because of the possibility of a life sentence in the case.
Nichols remains jailed at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail in Nelsonville.
A jury trial is set for May 6.