The Indiana Supreme Court has affirmed a trial court’s sentence for a man convicted of felony child solicitation against his teenage niece after it granted the state’s petition for transfer on Wednesday.
In Kyle Bess v. State of Indiana, 09S02-1609-CR-484, Bess pleaded guilty on Aug. 13, 2015, in Cass Superior Court to one count of child solicitation as a Level 5 felony. Bess’ plea came after he asked his 14-year-old niece to give him a lap dance, then, after she declined, had her sit on his lap while he kissed her cheek and tickled her.
The plea carried a sentence of one to six years, with three years as the advisory sentence. The Cass Superior Court sentenced Bess to three years to be served in the Department of Correction, saying that although he had no criminal history and his family would be unduly burdened by his incarceration, he had violated a position of trust with his niece and even blamed her for contributing to the incident.
Bess appealed, and the Indiana Court of Appeals found on June 15 that his fully executed sentence was inappropriate. The majority ordered that Bess be released from prison and serve the remainder of his sentence under supervised probation, but Judge Rudolph Pyle dissented, writing that he did not believe Bess’ sentence was inappropriate.
The state sought transfer, which the Supreme Court granted Wednesday.
“Our collective judgment is that the sentence imposed by the trial court in this case is not inappropriate,” the justices wrote in the two-page per curiam decision.