WARSAW — A Carmel man arrested for inappropriately touching a minor was sentenced Thursday, Feb. 15, in Kosciusko County Superior Court I.
Michael Anthony Daniels, Carmel, was arrested in December 2016 on a charge of child molestation. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Daniels was in court today for sentencing on an amended charge of battery to a person less than 14 years of age by a person over 18 years of age, a level 5 felony.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Sept. 7, 2016, an officer from the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department spoke with a male who advised that on Sept. 4, his family had been guests at Daniels’ lake cottage. The male explained that he and his wife had been woken up early the next morning by the minor, who told them Daniels had touched her inappropriately.
The victim had been visibly shaken and upset. After the victim explained to her parents what had occurred, they left the residence without telling the Daniels family. Later in the day, the victim’s mother sent a text message to Daniels’ wife telling her what had occurred. Daniels’ wife responded that she had talked to Daniels and he stated he had been drunk and could not say whether or not he had molested the victim.
A forensic interview was conducted on the minor. The minor advised she had been asleep on a top bunk bed when Daniels woke her up and began touching her in her private areas. The minor advised she rolled over and Daniels left the room.
The victim and her parents read statements in court today. The victim’s father berated Daniels for reportedly telling neighbors that the victim had lied and made the story up.
“That’s what happens in cases like this. Blame the victim,” said the victim’s father. “Just like with Larry Nassar, some victims came forward in the 90s but no one believed them. That abuse went on for two more decades with other girls because nobody believed them.”
“Well, you picked the wrong girl,” the victim’s father told Daniels. “We all believe her. Her parents believe her. Her friends believe her. The deputies in Carmel and the Warsaw police believe her. The prosecutor believes her. We all believe her.”
The victim’s father ended by saying to Daniels, “You’re going to burn in hell forever.”
The victim’s mother took the stand next, telling the court about the longtime friendship her family had with the Daniels family. She stated the families had been friends for ten years and told the court that the victim called Daniels “Uncle Mike” and thought of the Daniels’ children as her cousins. “We trusted you. We all loved you – and it all came to an end in that moment,” said the victim’s mother. “We are here today because she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
The victim became tearful on the stand, describing her pain upon hearing that Daniels’ wife had said negative things about her. “She treated me like I was her daughter and I looked up to her. I don’t understand why she would say those things,” she said, her voice breaking. “Maybe because she didn’t want to believe it had happened, and I understand that – but I wish it wouldn’t have happened too.”
“Despite the heartfelt statements heard this morning, according to the plea, we are looking at a charge of battery, not anything else,” said Judge David Cates. “I’m bound by that plea and I trust that the parents are acting in their child’s best interest.”
“Mr. Daniels, if you have any doubts about who caused this, all you need to do is look in a mirror,” said Cates, “Because you are solely responsible for what happened.”
Cates sentenced Daniels to five years in the Indiana Department of Corrections, suspending two years to be served on probation. Standard probationary rules will apply, with Daniels ordered to pay court fees and to obtain and maintain employment. A no contact order was issued, with Daniels ordered to have no contact with the victim or her immediate family. Daniels was ordered not to visit the neighborhood the victim lives in and not to be present at any school the victim attends. He was ordered to attend the Bowen Center for a mental health assessment and to follow all recommendations of the Bowen Center. Cates stated that, pursuant to the plea agreement, he had no objection to the executed portion of the sentence being served through the Kosciusko County Community Corrections program or the Hamilton County Community Corrections Program, provided that Daniels qualifies and remains qualified for one of those programs.