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Injured veteran sentenced to five years for sex crimes

LOCKPORT – A man who suffered a traumatic brain injury from a roadside bomb blast while serving in the Army in Iraq was sentenced Tuesday to five years in state prison for two sex crimes.

Jerald D. Lasher, 27, of Miller Road, Town of Niagara, had pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree rape for having sex with a 14-year-old girl on Christmas Day 2012, part of what Niagara County Deputy District Attorney Holly E. Sloma said was a two-year relationship, and to attempted first-degree sexual abuse for forcing himself on a friend of the first victim Dec. 21, 2015, when State Police said Lasher punched the woman in the face repeatedly while sexually assaulting her.

Sloma said Lasher blamed the crimes on the post-traumatic stress disorder he suffered in the wake of his 2009 Army injury. “That’s an insult to veterans,” Sloma said.

Assistant Public Defender Michael E. Benedict said Lasher had been drinking and using drugs ever since his “less-than-honorable discharge” from the Army, which Benedict said resulted from Lasher being mentally unable to properly participate in Army activities after his return stateside. “His time in the Niagara County Jail was the longest time he’s remained sober since he came back from Iraq,” Benedict said.

County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III tacked on 10 years of post-release supervision and told Lasher, “I’m afraid I don’t have much sympathy for you. Even acknowledging that you had those conditions, I don’t know how you couldn’t see that having sex with a 14-year-old girl was wrong. It violates the fundamental taboos we have in society.”

Lasher is the son of Thomas M. Lasher, 50, who is awaiting sentencing for attempted murder in the New Year’s Eve 2014 shooting of his wife’s lover.