(BLOOMFIELD) - Greene Circuit Judge Erik Allen faced a difficult decision Wednesday morning during the change of plea and sentencing hearing for now-convicted child molester Johnny McCarter of Bloomfield.
The Greene County Daily World reports that 48-year-old McCarter pled guilty in what Judge Allen says is a disturbing case involving a young victim who suffered substantial harm as a result of McCarter's sexual assaults.
Judge Allen had to decide between McCarter receiving the maximum time in prison that's allowed by law. That would likely require the victim to testify in open court in front of McCarter and a jury, which would cause an emotional setback in her recovery. To avoid that, the court accepted the plea agreement stating McCarter would not spend more than 10 years in prison.
Allen says he was conflicted and would not have accepted the agreement if not for the well-being of the child saying the crime was horrendous and very disturbing.
During the hearing, McCarter plead guilty to a Class B felony of child molesting and admitted to having sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 14.
Greene County Deputy Prosecutor Keven McIntosh told the court that the term "sexual intercourse" did not adequately describe what happened to the child.
Julie Criger, an investigator with the Greene County Prosecutor's Office, said the child in this case was six years old at the time of the offenses and is now eight and living with a foster family. The child is shy and guarded and breaks down in tears when asked about the incidents.
Judge Allen sentenced McCarter to 18 years with eight years suspended, in keeping with the agreement that McCarter would not be sent to prison for more than 10 years.
McCarter was given credit for 226 actual days served and assessed several fines amounting to several hundred dollars. After he's released from prison, he will serve the eight years suspended on eight years of supervised probation with numerous terms and conditions.
Allen said McCarter qualifies to be considered a "violent sexual predator" and he will be required to register with the sexual offender's list for the rest of his life.
McCarter had been the subject of an investigation by Criger for a couple of years when charges were filed against him last August. After a warrant was issued for his arrest, officers were unable to locate him. McCarter, a truck driver, was believed to have left the state. State and federal officers got involved and were on his tail for a couple of weeks before he was apprehended in Newark, Ohio on August 21 by Indiana State Police Trooper Brian Harshman, who was assigned to a U.S. Marshal's Task Force.
A case was also filed against the child's mother, 29-year-old Rachel B. Smith of Bloomfield. She is accused of exploiting the child and participating in sexually abusive incidents.
Smith is currently serving time in the Indiana Department of Corrections.
In January, Smith was convicted of child exploitation, a class C felony. She was sentenced to six years in prison with two years suspended which will be served on supervised probation. She will also be required to register as a sex offender.
At the time of Smith's conviction, she had agreed to testify truthfully against McCarter.
Smith had wrote letters to the court saying she lied about McCarter's offenses and so her testimony in a trial of McCarter was undependable. There was also no DNA evidence in the case, so the outcome of the trial hinged on the testimony of the child.
Though McCarter is only facing 10 years in this case, and could be released in five if he receives "good time" credit, his legal troubles may not be over. There's another serious case pending against him in another state.
During McCarter's hearing, Judge Allen said McCarter's criminal history includes a conviction for a robbery in North Carolina, a conviction for larceny and breaking and entering, also in North Carolina, a conviction for check fraud in Tennessee, and he owes over $75,000 in child support, plus he is wanted in Tennessee on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court.
In addition, McIntosh said yet another case is pending against McCarter in Greene County, Tennessee, for an alleged charge of a Class A felony of child molesting.
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