Columbia Man Sentenced to 25-50 Years in Prison After Rape Conviction

A Columbia man convicted of rape and two related charges was sentenced Friday in Lancaster County Court.

Steele Helton, 52, was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison by Lancaster County Judge Thomas Sponaugle. Helton was found guilty after a two-day trial on October 19 of three felony counts: rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and sexual assault.

Helton faced a mandatory sentence of 25-50 years due to him being a second-strike sexual assault offender.

Assistant District Attorney Fritz Haverstick prosecuted the case and acknowledged the victim’s bravery in trial.

“This sentence is reserved for the worst of the worst,” Haverstick said during the sentencing hearing.

Helton is required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law for the rest of his life.

On January 27, 2021, the victim contacted Manor Township Police Department to report a sexual assault that occurred at a residence on Water Street in Columbia between 9:30 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. on January 16 and 17, 2021.

The victim identified Helton and said they had been living on the same property. The victim stated they had been hanging out with a group of people on the night of the incident and Helton had a “weird look” on his face all night.

After going to sleep, the victim awoke to Helton removing the victim’s pants.

After the victim confronted the defendant via phone, Helton apologized. Helton also confirmed he was present the night of the assault to police. 

Manor Township Police Department Officer Colleen Tatara filed charges and testified at trial.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sean McBryan, semcbryan@co.lancaster.pa.us; Twitter: @SeanMcBryanLanc.