INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned a Griffith man's child molesting conviction Tuesday after determining prosecutors did not prove he acted to satisfy sexual desires.
Delford W. Jones was 75 years old Oct. 22, 2010, when he slapped the butt, hugged, kissed the cheek and grabbed the arm of a 13-year-old daughter of his home health aide while the girl was loading dirty clothes in a washing machine at Jones' home, according to court records.
A Lake County jury convicted Jones in July 2012 of child molesting and sexual battery, both felonies, and he was sentenced to two years in community corrections and two years on probation.
In his appeal, Jones argued that while his behavior was inappropriate, there was no evidence he acted specifically to arouse or satisfy his or the girl's sexual desires, as the law requires for a child molesting conviction.
The appeals court agreed. It wrote in its 3-0 decision that a conviction requires much more than inappropriate contact.
"Mere touching alone is not sufficient to satisfy the burden of proving the crime of child molesting or sexual battery; the state must also prove that the act of touching was accompanied by the specific intent to arouse or satisfy sexual desires," Judge James Kirsch wrote.
At the same time, the appeals court found Jones' touching met the standard for misdemeanor battery and ordered Jones resentenced for that crime.