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COA upholds 125-year child-molesting sentence

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In upholding multiple child-molesting convictions and a 125-year sentence, the Indiana Court of Appeals has rejected a woman’s argument about why her penalty should be reduced based in part on the very young ages of the victims.

The state’s second highest appellate court issued a decision today in Samantha Light v. State of Indiana, No. 23A01-0912-CR-600, which comes from Fountain Circuit Court and involves facts that the authoring appellate judge describes as “especially repugnant.”

Late last year, the 26-year-old Light pleaded guilty to three counts of Class A felony child molesting. In September 2008, Light and her boyfriend, 31-year-old Stephen Quick II, had engaged in and videotaped various sexual acts with a 6-year-old boy, 1-year-old boy, and 2-month-old girl, according to the court opinion. The couple was arrested and charged in March 2009, and Light later entered into a plea agreement dismissing two other felony child-exploitation counts.

Prosecutors agreed not to make any sentencing recommendations to the trial court. At sentencing, Fountain Circuit Judge Susan Orr Henderson imposed a total 125-year-sentence for Light. Quick received the same sentence on those three charges in March, and his appeal is now pending before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In arguing for a sentence reduction, Light contends that her sentence is inappropriate in light of her character and the nature of her offenses. With a forceful and descriptive eight-page ruling, the appellate panel rejected her challenges and affirmed the lower judge’s decision.

“Light concedes that her offenses are shocking in nature but suggests that the young age of the victims, who perhaps will not remember the events and may thereafter suffer less psychological trauma, ameliorates the grave nature of her offenses,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote for the unanimous panel, pointing out that the then-6-year-old does remember the events. “In any event, we are unpursuaded that forced group sexual activity with young children and infants, by their own caretaker and/or mother, is somehow less depraved if the victims do not recall each excruciating detail for the rest of their lives. To the contrary, the young age of the victims, whose youth and vulnerability made them easy prey, highlights the depravity of Light’s offenses and her lack of character in willingly engaging in such unthinkable acts.”

The court also dismissed her claims about remorse and clean criminal history being factors to consider reducing the sentence, as well as her argument that her willingness to plead guilty helped redeem her character.

Pointing to Indiana Supreme Court precedent in which the justices have reduced sentences in certain cases where multiple molestation convictions led to particularly lengthy terms, the appellate panel said this case is easily distinguishable and doesn’t warrant a reduction.

“Indeed, given the circumstances of Light’s crimes, her 125-year sentence is fully within the navigational buoys of that body of law,” Judge Bradford wrote.
 

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  1. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  2. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  3. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  4. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

  5. Oh yes, lifetime tenure. The Founders gave that to the federal judges .... at that time no federal district courts existed .... so we are talking the Supreme Court justices only in context ....so that they could rule against traditional marriage and for the other pet projects of the sixties generation. Right. Hmmmm, but I must admit, there is something from that time frame that seems to recommend itself in this context ..... on yes, from a document the Founders penned in 1776: " He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

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