Child molester gets four years in prison

WOODSTOCK – An Edinburg man will spend four years in prison for committing aggravated sexual battery and taking indecent liberties with an 8-year-old girl.

Byron Joseph Heatwole, 32, formerly of 192 Cave Springs Lane, pleaded guilty to the charges in September as part of a plea agreement in Shenandoah County Circuit Court. The plea agreement included the dropping of two charges of aggravated sexual battery and three charges of sexual penetration with an object.

Heatwole faced a maximum sentence of 20 years on the aggravated sexual battery charge and 10 years for taking indecent liberties with a child.

The victim’s mother testified that Heatwole betrayed her trust in allowing him around her daughter.

“As I look at Byron, I trusted him, and I am so disappointed that he did something like this,” the woman said.

“I do have a fear you have done something like this before,” she told Heatwole.

The victim’s mother mentioned how Heatwole’s Mennonite religion gave her a false sense of complacency about letting him around her daughter. She said the case was an example of how child molesters can be found “everywhere.”

“I must say, your religion is a good cover for what you’ve done,” she told Heatwole, adding that, “Everybody wants to trust a Mennonite.”

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp accepted the plea agreement, which included two years of supervised probation.

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