LIMA — A Lima man convicted by a jury in August of attempted rape, attempted sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault was sentenced Monday morning to five years in prison.

Cornelius Ware Jr., 31, was convicted of attempted rape, a second-degree felony, and aggravated sexual assault, a fourth-degree felony, after Allen County District Court Judge Jeffrey Reed ruled that the charges of attempted rape and attempted sexual assault were merged. both were committed in the same act.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Everhart said Ware committed the crimes on Sept. 2, 2020, at a house party where both he and an underage girl had been drinking. He said that the psychological damage caused to the girl by the incident is clear from her testimony at the court.

Everhart said that even though the victim had been drinking heavily, that did not mean she was “sexually available” or inviting any sexual contact.

“She was obviously devastated to find out what happened to her the next morning,” Everhart said.

Ware’s attorney, Anthony VanNoy, said Ware regretted “engaging in sexual conduct” at the party “from day one.” He said Ware himself had been drinking, and while that fact doesn’t excuse his actions, it helps explain them.

Ware is ordered to pay court costs — totaling more than $1,500 — and to register as a Tier III sex offender for the rest of his life. He must verify that registration every 90 days or face a new felony charge.