Record Staff Writer
James Butler, 49, of Artesia, was convicted of one count of criminal sexual penetration of a minor under the age 13, a first-degree felony; two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor under the age 13, and one count of intimidation and threats against a witness.
The incidents occurred between July 2010 and December 2010. The child was 11 years old at the time of the first incident and 12 at the time of the last. In July, the mother, who was out of town at a conference, received a call from the victim’s younger sister about a fight between Butler and the 11-year-old girl.
When questioned, the victim said that Butler told her she couldn’t hide behind towels or in the shower because this was his house. The mother called her mother and had her pick up the children before she returned to Roswell.
The girl’s mother told the court that she saw behavioral changes in her daughter. The victim had been described as a happy-go-lucky child, who became angry when Butler was around. The couple tried counseling. According to the affidavit of criminal complaint, Butler admitted he told the victim that she could not hide “because he was angry.” The mother filed for divorce because she didn’t think her daughter was safe. The divorce became final in December 2010.
The changes had also been noted by friends and authorities at school. A fellow student said that she didn’t smile anymore. He thought she was being bullied and offered to help when the information came out. He reported it to the vice principal, who contacted the mother in 2012 and informed her that her daughter had been raped.
The victim reported to the detective investigating the charges that Butler held her down and threatened to hurt both her mother and her sister if she said anything.
The trial lasted one-and-a-half days. State Prosecutor Debra Hutchins presented State’s evidence the first day. Defense attorney Harry Wilcox called one witness the first day and a second the following morning.
“The defendant chose not to testify,” said Hutchins. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning with a verdict of guilty on all four counts.
“The victim was very brave and I commend the mother for getting her the help she needed when she needed it and being pro-active during the investigation,” Hutchins said.
Butler now faces sentences of up to 18 years imprisonment for CSP and a fine of $15,000; for the two second-degree felonies CSC of a child, 15 years imprisonment up to 30 years if the sentences run consecutively and $12,500 in fines. For conviction on the charge of threats, a third-degree felony, Butler could be sentenced between three to six years, the latter if the threats have to do with a sexual offense against a child and fines of $5,000.