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Akron man sentenced to life in prison for raping several women between 2011 and 2018

Posted at 5:46 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 17:46:07-04

AKRON, Ohio — An Akron man has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of several charges for raping multiple women between 2011 and 2018.

According to court records, Prentice Smith, 45, committed his first rape in January 2011 after he forced a woman into his car at gunpoint.

In March 2015, Smith pulled up next to a woman and offered her a ride home. He then drove the woman to a vacant parking lot and parked next to a building, preventing her from being able to open the door. Court records show that he beat and raped the woman.

Smith did the same exact thing two more times: once in May 2015 and again on Christmas in 2018.

On May 14, he was found guilty of five counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping.

Smith was sentenced to life in prison and will not be eligible for parole for 81 years.

If he is ever released from prison, he will have to register with the local sheriff's office every 90 days as a Tier III sex offender.

“Thank you to everyone who helped bring Prentice Smith to justice. My hope is that this also brings a sense of relief and closure for the survivors of his assaults. They showed tremendous strength as they faced Smith when they testified,” said Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh. “My office will continue to fight for survivors of sexual assault. We are a proponent of the “Start By Believing” campaign which helps build a foundation of belief and support for survivors of sexual assault in the hopes that more survivors will come forward and report what happened.”

This was the first trial in Summit County involving the recently-created Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Unit (SAKI).

In 2018, the Akron Police Department received a three-year, $1 million grant from the Department of Justice to form the SAKI Unit.

The Akron Sexual Assault Kit Initiative reviews unsolved rape cases less than 20 years old where DNA was collected but no suspect was charged with a crime.