Man pleads guilty to molesting girl

WOODSTOCK – An Edinburg man pleaded guilty Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to aggravated sexual battery and taking indecent liberties with a child, offenses which involved an 8-year-old girl.

Byron Joseph Heatwole, 32, of 192 Cave Springs Lane, Edinburg, entered the pleas as part of an agreement in which the prosecution agreed to drop two charges of aggravated sexual battery and three charges of sexual penetration with an object.

Judge Dennis L. Hupp withheld a finding of guilt against Heatwole. Hupp ordered a sex offender evaluation to be completed before he imposes a sentence at a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 18.

“I’m not rejecting the plea agreement, and I’m not accepting it,” Hupp said.

Heatwole faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the aggravated sexual battery charge and a maximum sentence of 10 years on the indecent liberties with a child offense.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola said he agreed to drop some of the charges against Heatwole to spare the child from having to testify at a trial.

“Based upon an agreement with the parents and the victim and the therapist, they agreed it was best she not testify based on prior mental health records,” Campola said of the victim.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com