By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — A Winona Lake man will serve eight years in prison after molesting a child on multiple occasions.
Trece Douglas Blanton, 22, 1202 Wooster Road Lot 6, Winona Lake, was charged with child molestation, a level 3 felony. Three additional charges of child molestation were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Blanton was sentenced in Kosciusko Superior Court 1 on Thursday, June 18.
On Feb. 14, the Winona Lake Police Department received a report of child molestation. A Department of Child Services family case manager completed a forensic interview with a child. According to court documents, during the interview, the child said Blanton had molested them on multiple occasions. The child also said Blanton told them not to tell anyone about the abuse.
A Winona Lake Police officer interviewed Blanton, who admitted to molesting the child and engaging in sexual contact. Blanton described the first sexual contact with the child starting after Christmas in December 2019 and continuing for approximately one month. Blanton told the officer that the last sexual contact he had with the child occurred in January 2020.
“I apologize to the victim of this case,” said Blanton. “I wish forgiveness and I do deeply apologize.”
During court proceedings, Defense Attorney Jay Rigdon noted that Blanton has no criminal history and is at low-risk to reoffend.
“He came into adulthood with fewer tools than most people have to stay a law-abiding citizen,” said Rigdon. “He needs assistance to make sure he gets those tools. I think some probation time should be included as well to provide him with the tools he needs to be successful.”
Judge Jerry Barr, sitting in for Kosciusko Superior Court 1 Judge David Cates, sentenced Blanton to 10 years in the Indiana Department of Correction, with two years suspended on formal probation. Blanton has 113 days of jail time credit in this case.
Blanton must also undergo sex offender counseling and register as a sex offender. A no-contact order was established between Blanton and the victim.
“Children look up to adults and they don’t know stuff that you might know,” said Barr. “This is very serious conduct that is not appropriate for any adult person.”