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Child molester gets 55 years in prison

By KATIE CLONTZ - kclontz@thecouriertimes.com

A Greencastle man received a 55-year prison sentence Tuesday morning after pleading guilty to two counts of child molestation. 

Michael S. Lewis, 46, molested a girl under the age of 10 for more than a year. The molestation took place at a New Castle home. At the sentencing hearing, Lewis admitted, through his guilty pleas, of fondling the girl and performing an oral sex act. 

He was originally charged in Henry Circuit Court 1 with six counts of child molestation, four of them Level 1 Felonies and two of them Level 4 Felonies. 

Per the terms of a plea agreement, Lewis pleaded guilty to one count as a Level 1 Felony and one count as a Level 4 Felony. The remaining charges were dismissed.

For the Level 1 Felony, Lewis received 45 years in prison. For the Level 4 Felony, he received 10 years. The sentences will be served consecutively, which means Lewis will have to finish serving time for the first offense before starting to serve the other. Additionally, Lewis will be required to register as a lifetime sex offender and a sexually violent predator. 

Additionally, because of his convictions, Lewis is considered a credit-restricted felon, meaning he will serve 85 percent of his time in prison. 

Tuesday’s sentencing was contested, meaning Lewis’ attorney, Kelly Noel Bryan of Muncie, argued for what sentence he felt was appropriate (36 years) while Henry County Prosecutor Joe Bergacs did the same, asking for 55 years.

Upon entering the courtroom, Lewis raised a shackled hand and waved to some of his family members present, including his mother and two sisters. 

The girl’s father, whom The Courier-Times is not identifying to protect the child’s identity, spoke during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing and recommended to the court that Lewis receive a 36-year prison term. 

The man also told Judge Bob Witham what life has been like for his daughter since the molestation took place. 

“She’s built up a barrier,” he said through tears. “She has a hard time getting close to people ... As her father, I failed her ... It was someone that we both trusted ... the bond we all had was shattered.” 

Lewis spoke on his own behalf Tuesday, at one point looking directly at the girl’s father. 

“I can’t tell you how sorry I am,” he said. “I love you so much. I just want you to keep setting goals ... and get everything in the world that you want ... I have to go pay for what I’ve done.”

“I miss you guys so much,” Lewis said to his family.

Lewis was arrested in December 2016 and has remained in jail since. As part of the sentencing, Judge Witham gave Lewis credit for the 648 days he has already been incarcerated. 

One of Lewis’ sisters spoke on his behalf during the hearing, offering testimony and said that while she disapproved of her brother’s conduct and agreed that he deserved to be punished, he has done many good things in his life that should be taken into consideration. 

One of those good things, she said, was helping take care of his developmentally-challenged sister both when she was younger and as an adult. 

“No one ever picked on her because of Michael,” she said. 

Additionally, Michael helped take care of his sick father, who passed away in September, 2016. 

“He saved my father’s life more than once,” his sister said, noting that Michael moved in with his father to care for him, and received training to perform dialysis. 

Lewis’ attorney told Judge Witham that Lewis has a history of gainful employment, and confessed to police when questioned about the molestation, without a plea agreement on the table, which showed an acceptance of responsibility. 

“No matter how many good deeds a person does ... they can all be undone,” Witham said. “I don’t know that there’s any payment that could be made for the damages done ... Everyone is paying a price.” 

Prosecutor Bergacs called Lewis’ actions “despicable” and “horrible.” 

“I asked for 55 years and the judge ordered 55 years. I’m happy with the sentence. I think it was appropriate,” Bergacs said.