By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — A Warsaw teen will serve 10 years in prison after molesting a child over the course of three years.
Zachary Ryan Weaver, 17, 1414 Country Club Drive East, Warsaw, was charged with child molesting, a level 4 felony. A rape charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Weaver was sentenced in Kosciusko Superior Court One on Thursday, July 2.
On April 5, 2019, Warsaw Police officers received a report that Weaver had raped a child.
According to court documents, on April 11, 2019, Child Protective Services spoke with the victim, who said in the summer of 2016 the child was at Weaver’s residence with a friend. Weaver then forced the child to have intercourse with him.
The child said this activity continued on a monthly basis, with the last incident occurring in March 2019 when Weaver again forced the child to have intercourse. The child said they are afraid of Weaver because he threatened to kill them if they told anyone.
During court proceedings, the victim testified and elaborated on the incidents with Weaver.
“He took advantage of me and wanted me to help take advantage of others,” said the victim. “I would try so hard to stay away from him. But he threatened and raped me all he wanted. He threatened me in many ways and never took no for an answer. He took my childhood and my pride, but my relationship with my family has gotten stronger.”
The victim’s mother also testified in court.
“Two of my greatest wishes for my children is to have them safe and happy,” said the mother. “He (Zachary) terrorized my child physically, mentally and sexually. He raped them, beat them, berated them. He told them that their parents wouldn’t want them anymore if they told. (The child) is still in constant fear of our lives and will always fight echoes of him in their mind. He decided that my child was his play toy and he felt privileged and entitled to them.”
Defense Attorney Jay Rigdon called Dr. Stephen Ross to testify. Ross first met Weaver in June 2019 and has been counseling and treating Weaver. In his testimony, Ross said Weaver was exposed to pornography at a young age and believes that created a cognitive distortion. Ross described Weaver as “an immature kid” and said he didn’t initially understand the gravity of the situation, but that he understands it now.
In his statement to those in court, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz described the victim and their family as strong.
“The parents acted immediately and appropriately as soon as they found out, always with a focus on their child’s current and future protection,” said Voelz. “(The victim’s) courage has protected other children.”
Rigdon said Weaver has the opportunity to participate in a residential treatment program in Fort Wayne in order to get the help he needs.
“This is a tragic, sad situation for an awful lot of people,” said Rigdon. “He is a child still and has had the willingness to take responsibility for what he’s done.”
Weaver did not give a statement in court.
“The best thing I’ve heard today is we have somebody here who has a strong purpose in life and a strong family,” said Judge David Cates, addressing the victim in court. “But I don’t buy for a second you’re (Zachary) taking full responsibility. I believe you continue to blame the victim.”
For child molesting, Cates sentenced Weaver to 12 years in the Indiana Department of Correction, with two years suspended on probation. Weaver must start participating in the Lifeline Family Services program by July 17 or report to the Kosciusko County Jail for the execution of his sentence.
As conditions of his sentence, Weaver cannot be alone with anyone under the age of 18 unless an adult is present. He must also register as a sex offender and have no contact with the victim in this case.