By FRANK PHILLIPS
Convicted child molester Glenn L. Culler, 40, of Bowling Green received 66 years, the maximum sentence allowed by Indiana law, Monday morning in Clay Superior Court. Culler was sentenced on three counts of child molesting.
In sentencing Culler, Judge Blaine Akers said the nature of the case was "appalling" and told Culler, "You are a sexual animal of opportunity."
One of the State's witnesses who testified against Culler on Monday was his daughter, Amanda, age 18.
Amanda and two extended family members had been sexually abuse repeatedly by Culler over a number of years.
According to testimony cited by special prosecutor Rowdy Williams, Glenn Culler abused Amanda, now 18, every other weekend when he had custody of the girl over a five-year period.
During the trial, Amanda had told the court that by the time she reached the third grade she was convinced sexual intercourse was the normal way fathers treated their daughters.
Testimony during the trial also indicated Culler abused two other juvenile girls in the family, making each one watch while he abused the other.
Glenn Culler's mother, brother, aunt and a friend, who drove to Brazil from his home in Nevada, were among the 12 asking the court to be lenient on his behalf Monday.
The friend from Nevada, Lawrence Deck, age 60, drove all night, arriving in Clay County at 6 a.m. Monday in time to testify at the 10:30 a.m. sentencing.
When Deck learned of the charges filed against Culler, he could not believe it.
"He's almost like a brother to me," Deck said. "He loves children. He was always good to his children."
Culler's mother, brother and aunt described him as someone who was always there to help family and friends. He was never known to abuse alcohol or other drugs.
Culler's mother, Virginia R. Culler of Bowling Green, said she did not believe her granddaughter's testimony during the trial, choosing to believe Glenn Culler's claims of innocence instead.
Culler continually denied his guilt.
"I didn't do these things I'm accused of," Culler told the court.
He said he "washed the girls" but denied having any sexual contact with them.
But, the State's case was built on the testimony of three girls involved, leading to his conviction on Jan. 22 in a jury trial.
Indiana State Police Detective Troy Stanton began investigating the complaints against Culler on Dec. 10, 2002. A probable cause affidavit was filed Dec. 20, of that same year, alleging that Culler had inappropriate sexual contact with at least four different female juveniles younger than the age of 14, between 1991 and 2002.
The prosecutor's office amended the charges to one count of child molesting, a Class A Felony and two Class C Felony counts of child molesting.
Culler's family and friends said he never lied to them or cheated anyone.
Culler's attorney, Kenneth Owens, of Indianapolis, asked the judge for leniency.
"In considering a criminal case, we have to ask, 'Why take away a man's freedom? What purpose would it serve?'" Owens said.
Owens asked the judge to consider the fact his client had never been convicted of any other crimes and the hardship it would place on his family. An aunt testified Culler feeds the animals on her farm and transports her to the doctor because she has a heart condition and does not drive.
Owens said that if Culler were sentenced to prison, he would lose his job and no longer be able to pay child support. Owens assured the judge Culler would not be a threat to society, if he were released.
Prosecutor Williams called just one witness during the sentence hearing: Culler's daughter, Amanda. Her words were spoken too softly for this reporter to hear. She had been a witness against her father during the trial.
Williams told the court there were numerous aggravating circumstances to consider in sentencing the defendant:
- Risk that Culler would commit another crime. Testimony during the trial indicated a pattern of Culler molesting his daughter, Amanda, from 1993-1998 and molesting two other juveniles in the family in 2002.
- A reduced or suspended sentence would not indicate the seriousness of the crimes for which Culler was convicted.
- Sexual abuse is considered a "heinous" crime due to the psychological and emotional trauma caused the victims.
- Most aggravating was the frequency of abuse during weekend visitations with his daughter over a five-year period .
- Breach of trust
Akers agreed with the prosecution. Refering to the dozen character witnesses who asked the judge to show mercy to Culler, Akers said, "You may be a friend, but you breached the trust of your own flesh and blood."
Akers went on to say the State had proven to a jury that Culler had been involved in "carefully calculated" criminal acts.
"It is my intent to sentence you to the maximum time allowableby the law," Akers told Glenn Culler.
Akers sentenced Culler to prison for 50 years on Count 1 and eight years each on Counts 2 and 3.
While the judge could have made the sentence concurrent, reducing the time to be served, he made the jail terms consecutive, extending the sentence to 66 years due to the nature of the crimes.
When Akers told the defendant he had the right to file for appeal within 30 days, Culler responded, "I'm going to appeal it."
As the sentence was read, Amanda Culler could be heard sobbing as she watched the procedings.
"God have mercy," said Akers before ending the proceedings.
Linda Messmer contributed to this report.