Area man gets five years in prison

Man was convicted on sex offenses involving child

By Joe Beck

A Front Royal man convicted of two sex offenses against a 3-year-old girl pleaded for leniency at his sentencing Tuesday, but left the courtroom sentenced to five years in prison.

Warren County Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp suggested the defendant, John Joshua Carroll, may have been getting off too easily. Hupp said he was reluctantly accepting a plea agreement made by Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden and defense attorney Peter McDermott that limited Carroll’s active prison sentence to five years. An additional combined prison sentence of 15 years was suspended. Carroll’s sentence also included 2 1/2 years probation.

“I have found you guilty of two offenses involving disgusting, despicable conduct, and there has to be punishment for that,” Hupp told Carroll.

Carroll, 32, previously entered Alford pleas to aggravated sexual battery and taking indecent liberties with a child. An Alford plea means the defendant continues to assert he is not guilty but the prosecution has enough evidence to convict him.

Court records included a graphic description of a sex act the girl said she performed on Carroll while they were naked in a bathtub.

Hupp said he was accepting the plea agreement partly to spare the girl the trauma of having to recount the incident in a courtroom full of strangers.

Authorities say they obtained statements about Carroll’s sexual activity with the girl after Front Royal police arranged to have the girl interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center in Winchester in early March 2012.

Carroll and his mother, Mary Ann Carroll, both invoked what they called his love and excellent parenting of his two young sons as reasons for leniency. Mary Ann Carroll also said her son was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and had been undergoing treatment while working and raising his children.

Mary Ann Carroll said her son was frequently in trouble with the law until his first son was born.

“When John-John was born, he did a 180,” Mary Ann Carroll said, referring to her grandson’s nickname. “He absolutely worshiped that boy.”

John Carroll said a long prison sentence would be counter-productive.

“My boys need me more than anything else,” he told Hupp. “I did not think having kids would be this awesome.”

Madden scoffed at Carroll’s claims, citing the defendant’s refusal to admit guilt under the Alford plea as evidence of insincerity.

“I just see no remorse whatsoever,” Madden said of Carroll.

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