Man guilty in abuse case
A jury took just over three hours Wednesday to find Sterling Nathanial Hymel guilty of sexual abuse of a child under 12.
Hymel was arrested last year on charges alleging the sexual contact with a 6-year-old child in a 2011 incident.
During closing arguments Wednesday morning, both sides of the story were recounted by the attorneys trying the case before a jury and Circuit Court Judge Bert Rice.
Defense attorney Charles Johns Jr. said the accusation against Hymel was not the first time the child involved in the current case had made such claims.
“This child has also accused another person of touching her in a sexual manner,” Johns told the jury. “But, those charges were never pursued. Then, two years later, she makes similar allegations on Mr. Hymel.”
Johns said Hymel had nothing to prove in the case as he maintained his innocence on the charges levied against him.
“There has been no medical evidence showing any damage to this child,” Johns said. “There has been no DNA evidence in this case. All a man has is his word. He chose to stand up and say ‘I didn’t do it’ right here in this courtroom. He doesn’t have to prove he didn’t do it — the state has to prove he did do it.”
Assistant District Attorney Todd Stearns told the jury that Hymel was indeed guilty of the charges against him since the proof in the case was unquestionable.
“Mr. Hymel is not accused of raping or penetrating that child,” Stearns said. “There wouldn’t be any evidence of touching the child. He is accused of fondling her private parts, and it comes down to a child’s word against an adult’s word. This is not an easy job. This child has been consistent with her story. She told her mother who touched her. She told DHR who touched her. She told the forensic interviewer who touched her. And, she told you that under her oath. Why would she lie? It was not easy to talk about this disgusting and humiliating thing that was done to her. She has put herself through a lot by telling the truth.”
Following closing arguments, jurors were instructed on the law pertaining to the charges against Hymel and the possible verdicts available to the jury in the connection with the case.
“We are disappointed in the jury’s verdict,” Johns said. “Mr. Hymel has maintained his innocence throughout these proceedings, and we anticipate an appeal.”
A sentencing date for Hymel had not been determined as of press time. Hymel could face up to 10 years in prison for the conviction.
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