Justices beef up molester’s sentence slashed in prior appeal

A former southern Indiana teacher who repeatedly molested a student from the age of 12 will serve 60 years in prison, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Friday, discarding an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling that had slashed the man’s sentence from 70 years to 30 years in prison.

Justices ruled in Corey R. Faith v. State of Indiana,19S-CR-499, slightly reducing the sentence imposed on Faith after his conviction in Harrison Superior Court. Faith, who formerly taught New Middletown Elementary School in Corydon and elsewhere, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to three counts of Class A felony child molesting, and 33 other counts were dropped. The trial court imposed 30-year sentences on each conviction to be served consecutively, with 20 years suspended, for the crimes committed from 2005 to 2007.

But the Indiana Court of Appeals in a May memorandum decision adjusted the sentence to be served concurrently with no time suspended, for a 30-year term, finding the trial court sentence was inappropriate based on the nature of the offenses and his character. In a per curiam opinion Friday, the Indiana Supreme Court strongly disagreed.

“(W)e find a 30-year aggregate sentence to be wholly inadequate under the circumstances. On appeal, Faith cited [Monroe v. State, 886 N.E.2d 578 (Ind. 2008)] and [Harris v. State, 897 N.E.2d 927 (Ind. 2008)] to support his claim that consecutive sentences are inappropriate in cases involving multiple acts of molestation against a single victim. But both cases involved the revision of enhanced, not advisory, sentences to be served concurrently instead of consecutively. Accordingly, we revise Faith’s sentences to the original consecutive 30-year terms, with 30 years suspended, for an executed sentence of 60 years.”

Justices noted that Faith abused a position of trust in a situation in which the victim’s mother suffered from mental illness stemming from her own molestation beginning at about age 12, and the victim’s father worked long hours to support the mother’s mental health care.

“The record shows that in 2005, Faith began grooming his 12-year-old student, A.B., at a time when A.B.’s mother was undergoing inpatient treatment for her mental illness and her father was working long hours to support the family.

“… Faith led A.B. to believe that they would elope to Tennessee, and A.B. was devastated when she learned that Faith’s wife was expecting their first child. A.B.’s mother, whose mental health issues were largely attributed to her own molestation at age 12, once informed A.B. that ‘she would die’ if what happened to her happened to A.B. After A.B.’s mother died by suicide in 2016, A.B. ‘went downhill’ and ‘started to feel like my mom … I just wanted to die.’ She confided in a friend, who immediately reported Faith’s actions to the police and school board,” the majority justices wrote.

Justice Geoffrey Slaughter dissented in part. “Although I disagree with the court of appeals’ decision to reduce Faith’s sentence, I do not believe its low-ball sentence warrants transfer,” he wrote. “But given our determination to reach the merits of Faith’s sentence, I would affirm the sentence imposed by the trial court. The defendant does not allege the trial court’s sentence of three consecutive thirty-year terms, with twenty years suspended, was unlawful. In my view, that is where our sentencing review should begin and end. Once we conclude a challenged sentence was legal, I would stop there and not expend our limited resources substituting our collective view of what sentence is appropriate for that of the trial judge.”

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