JURY VERDICT: Mulberry man convicted of sexual battery, faces life in prison

Johnathan Sharon forced his victim to perform sexual acts on him for 9 years.

Johnathan Sharon, 24, of Mulberry.

A jury deliberated for less than two hours Thursday before finding Sharon, 24, guilty of sexual battery on a victim under the age of 12 while the defendant is under the age of 18, lewd molestation, and committing an unnatural and lascivious act.

He is facing life in prison and will be sentenced July 11.

Assistant State Attorney Randi Daugustinis told the jury that Sharon started forcing himself on the victim when she was 6. He would pull her into a room, lock the door and punch or choke her until she cooperated.

The victim told her mother that Sharon was sexually abusing her, but she didn’t believe her. Sharon continued to force the victim into sexual acts until she was 14, and she reported it two years later.

On a controlled phone call with law enforcement, the victim confronted Sharon about the abuse. He told her, “I cannot remember much of anything before I turned 18.”

When the girl told him she was looking for closure, Sharon became angry and told her he didn’t “have time for this.”

The defense argued that others in the home would have heard the physical abuse when it happened.

Daugustinis reminded jurors that other witnesses testified the television in the house was always on. People were always going in and out of the home, making a lot of noise and drowning out what was happening.

Assistant State Attorney Randi Daugustinis addresses jurors during closing arguments Thursday, showing them how the defendant choked his victim. Jurors deliberated less than two hours before finding Sharon guilty.

The victim testified during trial that she didn’t yell or scream to alert anyone because she was afraid of Sharon. And it wasn’t until she was older that she found the strength to start fighting back.

Sharon testified in court Thursday, telling the jury that he never touched the girl in a sexual manner and that they had never been alone together.

But he also told jurors that when law enforcement interviewed him about the incidents, he believed that they would let him go back to work if he said they were just kids and were messing around.

The defense admitted Sharon changed his statements to detectives, claiming that he believed admitting he was messing around was “the lesser of two bad outcomes.”

But Daugustinis argued that the reason Sharon couldn’t keep his story straight when he was questioned was an indication of his consciousness of guilt.

“He (Sharon) blames everyone else. Then he said he couldn’t remember. Then he admitted to touching her,” Daugustinis said, referring to his statement to detectives. “When she confronted him for closure on the controlled call, he said he didn’t remember. An innocent person doesn’t say that he simply doesn’t remember.”

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