Gladwin found guilty of sexual abuse

Staff reports

James Gladwin, 37, of Knoxville, Tenn., formerly of Viola, was found guilty Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009, of two counts of criminal sexual abuse charges, count 1, criminal sexual abuse, victim 13-16 (a class 2 felony) and criminal sexual abuse, can't consent (a class 4 felony). Both charges were addressed at a bench trial in front of Judge Walter Braud in Mercer County Court. Attorney for the state was Gregory McHugh and Attorney James Tappa represented the defense.

The state had the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Testifying for the state were two law enforcement officers, Mercer County Investigator Jeff Dale, and Mercer County Deputy Hallace Chapman. The incident that was investigated took place in September 2006. The charges came to light to the police in early June of 2009 after a phone call came in about some possible abuse taking place in September 2006.

Investigator Dale spoke with two witnesses, two female juveniles, whose statements led to Gladwin's arrest. Chapman testified, because he was the landlord of the rental home where Gladwin lived. The teens also testified.

The two teens attended a birthday party on Sept. 6, 2006 in New Windsor one evening and on the way home from the party asked Gladwin to stop and pick up some alcohol for them, before going home. He purchased it for them, and one girl drank around one bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade, with the other consuming around four bottles. They then proceeded to hang out, listen to music.

The alleged abuse took place that evening, with Gladwin sitting next to, cuddling, kissing and eventually laying on top of one of the teens. The other teen went to lie down, and did so on James Gladwin's bed, but woke up and saw the two together, kissing and touching. She was embarrassed and upset, and went back to bed and stayed in bed until the next morning.

On June 9, 2009, was the first time either teen talked to anyone about what happened.

Testimony for the defense came from James Gladwin, himself. He told a different story. He described an incident that happened at a birthday party in New Windsor, where the girls were approached by another adult male in a provocative manner and then they made a request to go home with him. He said the girls did ask him to stop and purchase alcohol, but he said no. When he got home, he got blankets and pillows for the girls, who were staying in the living room, then he went to bed because he had a headache. When asked if he had kissed, fondled or had done anything inappropriate with a minor he said 'no.'

The defendant said he lived at his Viola residence until Nov. 11, when he vacated the residence because he couldn't pay the rent.

Judge Braud ruled that the two teens’ testimony rang true. Both talked about stopping at a store and ducking down in the van to hide from a clerk they knew at the store where the alcohol was purchased. The victim, Judge Braud said “Was a reluctant witness and nothing she said indicated she had an axe to grind. She did not appear angry.” He said the eyewitness testimony from three to four years ago was corroborated by someone who saw it happen.

The defendant is also facing another court date on Oct. 26, 2009 for a jury trial, with three class X felony counts of predatory criminal sexual assault on a girl under the age of 13, alleged to have happened on or about Aug. 1, 2004, Nov. 1, 2004 and Feb. 1, 2005. Gladwin has been in Mercer County Jail since June 2009 under $125,000 bond (10 percent to apply).