ITHACA, N.Y. — Two men who were convicted of raping a young girl over a period of years were sentenced to prison Thursday afternoon in a crowded Tompkins County courtroom.

Jeffery Ponton, 46, and his stepson Leslie Youst, 19, both previously pleaded guilty to first-degree rape.

Ponton was sentenced to 10 years in prison with 20 years of post-release supervision. He will have to register as a sex offender and adhere to a 38-year order of protection.

In court, his young victim read a prepared statement before his sentencing.

“He turned out to be a monster…He turned me into a sex toy,” she said. “I am ecstatic you are going to prison for 10 years. You deserve to be in longer.”

Assistant District Attorney Diane Lama said Ponton admitted to raping the girl and has shown no remorse or insight about why the crimes happened. She said the only emotions he expressed to officials was when he said he was “scared shitless” of going to prison.

Ponton declined to speak at the sentencing, but his attorney said he was “very remorseful” about the crimes.

Judge Richard Rich addressed the defendant after sentencing, calling the crimes “beyond hideous” and stating that while he would not interfere with the attorneys’ plea bargaining process, he felt that 10 years was a light sentence for the rapes.

“You should never, ever, ever see the light of day….100 years isn’t enough for this type of conduct,” Rich said.

Before telling guards to remove the defendant from his courtroom, Rich reminded Ponton that he is eligible to apply for an appeal.

“I hope to God you do because then the case can come back and I hope you get longer,” Rich said.

During the sentencing right before Ponton’s, Rich opted to sentence the other defendant in the case, Leslie Youst, as an adult as opposed to  youthful offender.

Youst was given seven years in prison, 20 years of post-release supervision, a 35-year order of protection and will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

If he had been sentenced as a youthful offender, his maximum sentence would have been four years in prison and he would not have had to register as a sex offender.

“I feel terrible, but this is far too serious to allow you to walk out of here with youthful offender adjudication,” Rich said, noting that he did take into consideration the fact that Youst likely learned his behavior from his step-father Ponton.

“This is a horrible, troubling case on all levels,” Rich said.

The victim also spoke at Youst’s sentencing stating, “I was just a child…I had no way to defend myself or stop him.”

She said that Youst knew what he was doing was against the law and told her not to tell anyone about the rape.

“I found the strength and courage to come forward and make it stop,” she said.

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.