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July 16, 2004

Man guilty on porn charges

From: Johnson County Daily Journal, IN - Jul 16, 2004

Daily Journal staff writer

July 16, 2004

After deliberating for almost eight hours, a jury convicted a New Whiteland man on two counts of showing pornographic videos to minors but made no decision on a child molesting charge.

The jury convicted Steven Prine on two felony counts of dissemination of matter harmful to minors.

However, the jury could not reach a decision on a child molesting charge against the 43-year-old man.

Judge Cynthia Emkes in Johnson County Superior Court 2 has scheduled a sentencing hearing Sept. 9 for the two Class D felony charges. Each charge carries a penalty of six months to three years in prison.

Prine is currently out of jail on $56,000 bond.

He was first arrested in September 2001. Police said Prine showed a pornographic video to two girls, then 9 and 10 years old, who stayed the night at his house in July 2001. He was also accused of performing a sex act on one of the girls after she went to bed.

Prine first told investigators the girls had never spent the night in his home but later slipped a note to a police officer saying they had, according to the prosecutors office.

Johnson County Deputy Prosecutor Daylon Welliver said he has not yet decided if he will retry or dismiss the child molesting charge.

Im a little puzzled on their thought process in convicting on some and not all (charges), he said about the jurys verdict. But I do know they really did work hard on reaching an agreement.

During the three-day trial, both girls testified against Prine, as did the mother of one girl and a police officer who received the note. Two certified sign-language experts were also present to translate, since the victims and Prine are all deaf.

The jury began deliberation about 4:55 p.m. Wednesday and returned with a verdict shortly before 1 a.m. Thursday.

Neither Welliver nor Prines defense attorneys, Jay Hoffman and Brian Newcomb, knew what the vote was on the child molesting charge.

We wanted people that would come in and listen to the witnesses, evidence and law and then use common sense to make a decision, Hoffman said. They did that, and we appreciate them working through some tough issues.

Welliver said he will now have to examine evidence and speak with the victims before deciding to retry or dismiss the child molestation charge, a Class A felony that carries a penalty of 20 to 50 years.

Portions © 2004 The Daily Journal, Johnson County, Indiana.