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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Charges filed in incest case

Friday, February 20, 2009

Two Clay County siblings were recently arrested amid strange allegations of rape, consensual sex, false reporting and incest.

Arrest warrants for two class C felony charges of incest were issued recently for both Timothy J. Mendenhall, 45, Brazil, and Belinda M. Lafary, 43, Harmony, after officials from the Clay County Sheriff's Department filed a probable cause affidavit in the case which was initially a rape report.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed at the Clay County Prosecutor's Office, Lafary initially contacted the sheriff's department with an alleged rape report on Nov. 7, 2008.

However, once officials arrived at her home, Lafary slightly changed the story. She allegedly told authorities while her biological brother, Mendenhall, who was living at her apartment in March, told her if she didn't have sex with him he would rape her. Lafary told investigators that, although she said no, sexual relations allegedly occurred three times in one night.

When officers asked if Mendenhall used some type of force, Lafary told them no. But, she said he told her to not tell anyone what happened and then explained the alleged emotional turmoil of not telling anyone until recently.

After being asked if something like this had happened between them before, she said no. Upon further questioning, Lafary admitted a fourth "consensual" incident allegedly happened after the landlord discovered Mendenhall was a current registered sex offender and made him leave.

According to the Indiana Sheriff's Association Sex and Violent Offender Registry, Mendenhall is listed as an active sex predator on lifetime notification for convictions in separate cases dated May 16, 2005, and another on Aug. 25, 2008.

However, during a second interview recorded by officials on Nov. 24, 2008, Lafary said her brother threatened and forced himself on her.

On Dec. 1, 2008, Mendenhall went to the Clay County Justice Center at the request of investigators to talk about the alleged rape report. After being advised of his rights and informed the interview would be recorded, Mendenhall initially denied raping or having sex with his sister, saying he believed she had been depressed.

As the interview continued, Mendenhall admitted to having consensual sex the first time but denied raping Lafary or returning to her home after he left.

When officials asked if he would be willing to take a polygraph test, Mendenhall agreed.

On Dec. 1, investigators made arrangements for polygraph tests to be given at the Putnamville Indiana State Police Post, with Mendenhall's test scheduled for Dec. 15, and Lafary's scheduled for Dec. 16.

Although they both agreed to take the tests, Mendenhall was the only one tested. Beginning the day after she agreed to take the test (Dec. 1), Lafary informed investigators she wasn't feeling well and wouldn't be able to take the test on four separate occasions. When contacted the day of the test by officials, who told her that taking the test could potentially help her case, Lafary said she could not go and the test was cancelled.

According to the probable cause, officials confirmed Mendenhall passed the portion of the polygraph in reference to not raping Lafary and he admitted to having consensual sex with her.

Since they both admitted to consensual sex, investigators provided potential charging information to the prosecutor's office for two counts of class C felony incest against Mendenhall and Lafary.

Due to her being uncooperative -- and Mendenhall passing his polygraph test -- officials also provided additional charging information against Lafary for false reporting, which had not become a formal charge as of Friday.

No information is available about further charges potentially being filed against Mendenhall for his status as a registered sex offender. The Brazil Times were unable to reach Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger Friday for further comment about this case.

Both suspects entered preliminary not guilty pleas when they appeared in court Thursday on the formal charges and requested pauper counsel from the Clay County Public Defender's Office.

Mendenhall appeared before Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers, while Lafary appeared before Circuit Court Judge Joseph Trout.

With Lafary's bond set at $7,000 (with 10 percent allowed), Trout set the matter for a jury trial on June 8. She bonded out of the Clay County Justice Center later Thursday to await further court proceedings.

Although Mendenhall's bond was set at $10,000 (no 10 percent allowed), Akers ordered he be held an additional 15 days at the Clay County Justice Center pending the probation department potentially filing any petitions to revoke his probation.

According to jail personnel, Mendenhall remains incarcerated awaiting further court proceedings.