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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. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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