A Cope man will spend nearly the next decade and a half in prison after he pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary.

Joseph Eugene Ross, 37, of 724 Trecer Road, pleaded guilty on Nov. 29 to burglarizing a woman’s home during nighttime hours while in possession of a knife.

Circuit Judge Howard P. King sentenced Ross to 15 years in prison. He was given credit for having already served 278 days at the Orangeburg County Detention Center.

King also ordered Ross to be housed in the addiction treatment unit in prison.

He ordered Ross not to have any direct or indirect contact with the victim or her children. Once he gets out of prison, Ross is not allowed within one mile of the victim’s residence or place of employment.

On Feb. 24, Ross forced his way into a woman’s home and allegedly threatened to sexually assault her.

She told Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office investigators that she was reading when she heard someone knock at her door.

She initially thought the visitor was a relative, so she opened the door.

The woman quickly realized the visitor was not familiar to her.

She attempted to shut the door to keep him out, but he forced his way inside.

According to the incident report, Ross pushed her to the floor, pulled a knife on her and demanded that she remove her clothes.

She told Ross that her children were in the home and begged him not to assault her. She asked Ross if they could go outside and away from her children.

As she and Ross moved toward the door, she managed to shut the door and lock it, keeping Ross outside.

That’s when she called 911.

Officers found Ross nearby and took him into custody.

He remained at the Orangeburg County Detention Center until he pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary last week. He’s now housed in the S.C. Department of Corrections.

Contact the writer: mbrown@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD.

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