By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – “This crime you committed didn’t just have an impact on me. It had an impact on my family and everyone else that I love. Even to this day, I have trouble sleeping and dealing with everyday tasks. You have brought all this pain to my family and friends. I can’t even play games without stressing about running away from my sisters to cry because of the mental scars you have caused.
“You took a lot from me. My virginity – I was saving that for marriage. My trust, my hope, my happiness – I will never have a chance to feel normal or be normal. You even took my faith. You made it where I had so much hate for this world. What you did to me made me feel like causing bodily harm to myself to help with the pain. Your actions caused me to have suicidal thoughts. You made me so insecure about everything. It takes me forever to allow or have someone to hug me without freaking out, even my family. I can’t get close to anyone, even my family, because of the actions you took. I honestly hope you find Jesus, because Lord knows you need Jesus in your life. I pray for you.” – Jane Doe’s Victim Impact Statement.
After a two-day trial, which concluded on Wednesday, Feb. 8, a Houston County jury sentenced Kennard resident Kevin Wayne Hathorn to 16.5 years in prison and assessed a $5,000 fine after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a child under the age of 17.
Hathorn, 31, was arrested on June 17, 2015 and charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child, one count of sexual assault of a child and one count of indecency with a child by contact.
Assistant District Attorney Roger White said the aggravated assault of a child and indecency with a child charges were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea.
“I think it was just and the sentence was appropriate. I think (Jane Doe) finally got some justice in this case. I feel she might be happier and able to move on with her life now. She has been able to tell her story and saw the defendant get punished for what he did,” White said.
In regard to what was deemed an “unusual sentence” by courtroom observers, White speculated it was possible when the prosecution asked for 18 years in the case, the jury considered the year and a half Hathorn had spent in the Houston County Jail while he awaited trial and subtracted that from the 18 years.
“That’s just a guess,” White added. “I’ve never seen a half-year sentence before and I’ve been either a prosecutor or defense attorney for 22 years.”
The ADA said the trial began on Tuesday morning with jury selection with testimony beginning shortly after noon on Feb. 7.
“The state rested its case well before the end of the (first) day. The defense put on two witnesses who were the defendant’s family members and we cross examined them so we got pretty far yesterday. I guess it took less than half a day today,” White indicated.
The jury began deliberations shortly before noon on Feb. 8 and following a break for lunch, the 12-member body returned with a sentence at approximately 2:45 p.m.
“It took less than two days to complete the whole process,” White explained. “Now he did plead guilty to one of the counts. We did not instruct the jury about the other counts. We dismissed two counts and he pled guilty to one count (of the indictment.)”
White explained the reason Hathorn pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of a child charge “… was because she was 14 years old. If a child is 14 years old or older at the time of the offense, then the defendant still has the possibility of getting probation. Now, a defendant can’t get that from a judge in a case like that, but the defendant can get probation from a jury. In that case, the victim has to be 14 or older and that’s the reason he pled guilty to that charge.”
As previously reported in The Messenger, probable cause affidavits stated Hathorn sexually assaulted Jane Doe from the time she was six years of age until the time she was 14.
Sworn statements from investigators revealed the first incident occurred when the victim was six and continued “…on several occasions until she was 12 years of age. She stated that when she was 12 years old, the defendant (Hathorn) started having sexual intercourse with her. She stated that he did this from the time she was 12 to 14 years of age and then it stopped.”
“The defendant (Hathorn) admitted to having sexual contact with victim from the time she was six until she was 14 years old,” the documents further reported, “He said it was done for sexual arousal and that the victim never initiated sexual contact.”
During the penalty phase of the trial, Hathorn’s defense attorneys argued he was mentally incompetent, did not understand his own actions and as a result, they requested probation.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.