MICHIGAN CITY — A LaPorte Superior Court jury found a Royal Center, Indiana, man guilty of molesting a child for six years starting when she was in the first grade.
Anthony Mashburn, of Royal Center, faces a potential 20 to 50 years on each of the two Class A felony child molesting counts for which he was convicted Thursday night, according to state sentencing guidelines. The crimes occurred in Michigan City and LaPorte.
He could get up to eight additional years on each of the two Class C felony child molesting counts the jury also believed he committed.
Defense attorney David Payne portrayed the now 19-year-old victim as a liar with emotional problems stemming not from sexual abuse, but an upbringing full of domestic violence at home and moving from place to place.
He said Mashburn, 38, was a source of stability for the victim and not the type of person who would do such things to a child.
LaPorte County Deputy Prosecutor Catherine Breitweiser-Hurst said the victim kept the molestation a secret at the request of Mashburn, whom the victim loved and still does.
The victim confided with a sibling at age 17, Breitweiser-Hurst said.
Breistweiser-Hurst also said Mashburn disappeared for six weeks out of fear the victim would tell of the crime when she was admitted for treatment for emotional problems.
He came back once he felt confident the victim had not told anyone, she said.
"He thought he was about to get busted," said Breitweiser-Hurst, who closed the trial by playing a recording of the victim on the phone telling Mashburn about confiding in the sibling.
About 20 seconds passed before Mashburn responded.
The victim then asked how to respond if anyone inquired about the situation.
"Tell them it's a lie," said Mashburn, who quickly ended the call.
The jury came back with its guilty verdict after four hours of deliberation.
Sentencing is scheduled Jan. 11.