LIMA — A Lima man who pleaded guilty last month to fondling a 12-year-old girl was sentenced Friday in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
Citing the man’s lengthy criminal record and his history of attempting to minimize the severity of his actions, Judge Terri Kohlrieser sentenced Dustin Herron to four and a half years in prison.
Herron, 35, was labeled a Tier II sex offender and as such will be required to register with local authorities twice annually for the next 25 years following his release from prison.
He was indicted last September on a third-degree felony count of gross sexual imposition for having sexual contact with a 12-year-old female.
According to court documents, Lima police were dispatched July 25 to a residence in the 1100 block of North Baxter Street in reference to a female juvenile who had been groped and held by an adult male. The girl told officers Herron touched her buttocks and breast on the outside of her clothing.
He later pulled her onto his lap and again touched her while holding her firmly, police said. The girl was eventually able to escape his grasp and ran to the home of a neighbor to call her grandmother for help.
During Friday’s hearing, Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Mariah Cunningham called the events surrounding the case “disturbing” and said the young victim suffered emotional distress as a result of the incident.
“She cannot feel comfortable around men anymore. This has clearly impacted her life,” Cunningham said in asking the judge to impose the maximum possible sentence.
A statement from the victim was read aloud in court, in which she also asked that Herron receive a lengthy prison sentence.
“Five years is not enough protection for me and other children,” the girl said in her statement.
Herron addressed the court briefly, saying he felt “bad about what happened” but also disputed an LPD detective’s summation of his statements taken during a jailhouse interview.
“What the detective said happened wasn’t entirely true,” Herron told the judge.
But Cunningham said the interview was recorded and that “Mr. Herron today is providing false information about what was said to the detective.”
Kohlrieser said that was in keeping with Herron’s “extremely frightening history” of refusing to take responsibility for his actions and his disregard for others.