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home : latest news : latest news September 30, 2014

1/6/2014 8:44:00 AM
Prescott Valley man gets 13 years in child sex abuse case
Chaun Tyler Sewell
Chaun Tyler Sewell

Despite a doctor's claim that a man accused in a child sex case was unlikely to repeat his actions, a judge on Thursday said he was a threat to the community and sentenced him to 17 years in prison.

Police arrested Chaun Tyler Sewell, 20, of Prescott Valley on a felony count of child molestation in May 2013 after a man saw Sewell with his hand down a 4-year-old girl's pants, Prescott Valley Police Sgt. Brandon Bonney said.

When officers answered the call on Colt Lane, they learned that Sewell had inappropriately touched the girl, who was known to him, Bonney said.

The girl's father told investigators that he walked into a room and saw Sewell with his hand down the girl's pants, then a brief altercation ensued between him and Sewell, Bonney said.

Sewell admitted involvement in the offense and was arrested, Bonney said.

He was charged with two counts of child molestation, but pleaded guilty instead to two counts of attempted child molestation, each of which could have resulted in a 15-year prison sentence.

Thursday in court, defense attorney M. Alex Harris called Richard Lanyon, Ph.D., to the witness stand to testify about Sewell's mental state before Judge Celé Hancock sentenced him.

Lanyon, who specializes in clinical and forensic psychology and psychosexual evaluations, said Sewell showed signs of "inadequacy and inferiority," and had a lack of maturity and social skills.

"I think it has to do with his general (lack of) self-esteem, tending to not interact or join in the general flow of adolescent activities," Lanyon said. "His feeling of attractiveness to girls was nonexistent."

But, Lanyon added, Sewell is not a pedophile.

He said Sewell could learn to overcome his lack of basic social skills and recommended a minimum sentence in prison, saying he had already "punished himself."

In his cross-examination, Deputy County Attorney Bill Hughes pointed out that Sewell had told police that he had initiated the sexual contact, but the doctor's report didn't mention that fact.

"He did it," Lanyan said. "It's unclear whether he was invited, and in any case, a 4-year-old can't" consent to or invite a sexual act.

Hughes told Hancock that Sewell should be imprisoned for six to seven years.

"The conduct of the defendant in this case is egregious," he said. "The public must be protected. It appeared to this prosecutor that the defendant was trying to shove blame or guilt onto the victim."

Harris reminded Hancock that Lanyan said, "Chaun has a very low aptitude to re-offend" and suggested Sewell would not do well in prison, where "they're hazed, they're beaten, they're abused."

"I am bothered most in this situation by the disconnect between Dr. Lanyan's report and the defendant's statement that was attached," Hancock said, noting that, "although he is clearly immature... he takes no responsibility for what he did at all. He offers only excuses."

Sewell is a "risk to the community," Hancock said, because his actions "cannot be misconstrued as unintentional."

She imposed 13 years' imprisonment for the first count and lifetime sex offender probation to follow the prison time for count two. Hancock said she would recommend he receive "any kind of counseling possible."

Follow the reporter on Twitter @AZNewsguy

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