Warsaw attorney John Barrett tried to argue mitigating factors against a jail sentence for his client, former Warsaw Police officer Tim Whitright, but in the end Kosciusko County Superior Court 1 Judge Duane Huffer ordered Whitright remanded to police custody.
Whitright, who was last in court May 1 to accept a plea of a class D felony charge of sexual battery, was sentenced today to 1 1/2 years in jail. Huffer, however, reduced jail time to just one year and ordered Whitright to serve the remaining time on probation. Whitright will also have to register as a sex offender for a period of 10 years.
Despite Barrett’s plea for home detention citing his client’s remorse, voluntary counseling that Whitright undergoes and a written report by the probation department that Whitright is considered a low risk for re-offending, Kosciusko County Prosecutor Dan Hampton asked the court for a harsher sentence.
Hampton read a letter to the court that was written by the mother of the then 14-year-old victim. The letter noted how her daughter has been traumatized by what she called a “violation” of her daughter. “Her whole life we taught her that police were there to help and protect her,” the woman wrote, ” … because of [him] she lost her innocence.”
In the letter that Hampton read, the mother also said her child is now teased at school and must endure her classmates making siren sounds when the girl walks by.
Hampton also said the reason why Whitright resigned from the Warsaw Police Department in late 2011 was because he had acted inappropriately with a 16-year-old girl. Although that incident was not criminal, the prosecutor told Judge Huffer the history is “more than an indiscretion, it’s a pattern … this case is the proverbial bad apple.”
Barrett argued for his client against mitigating factors that ultimately led to the jail sentence. He insisted Whitright’s police record showed a pattern of helping and protecting people. “We categorically deny any threat to the victim,” he added.
Prior to sentencing, Whitright gave a brief statement to the court. With his voice cracking he said, “I’m truly sorry this happened. It will never happen again. I’m sorry.”
Judge Huffer told the former officer he “embarrassed our community” and handed down the 1 1/2 year sentence, with 6 months suspended to be served on probation. The judge did ask that Whitright be sentenced to the Indiana Department of Corrections but that precautions to his safety be exercised.
Whitright received 2 days credit and, with good time credit, could be released from custody in six months.