Fla. man pleads in child molestation case

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By Tom Wilmoth

    A 48-year-old Florida man will spend 15 years in prison for sexually abusing a 7-year-old girl, the result of a plea agreement reached in Bedford County Circuit Court Friday.
    Anthony Alan Ewers pleaded no contest to two counts of aggravated sexual battery and two counts of animate object sexual penetration. Judge James Updike sentenced Ewers to 15 years on the aggravated sexual battery charges and 55 years on the animate object penetration counts. That 55 years includes an extra 40 years of probation that is added as part of state statute, required when the abuse is done by someone three years older than the victim. The first 10 years of that probation will be supervised.
    According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Krantz, Ewers had begun “grooming” the victim several months prior to the incidents in January of this year. That began after he started making trips from his Florida home to Bedford County to check on his mother’s home.
    His “grooming” process included convincing the girl’s parents to allow her to go with him on a blueberry picking trip in Campbell County in 2011, in which he sexually assaulted her and also showed her a pornographic magazine.
    The two attacks in Bedford County occurred on Jan. 24 and Jan. 26 of this year, according to Krantz. In one instance, Krantz said Ewers was supposedly in the girl’s room helping her paint her nails. In the other instance, Ewers had convinced the girl’s parents to let him babysit her while they were attending a friend’s funeral.
    Krantz said the girl was examined by a forensic nurse who concluded that the girl had been sexually assaulted.
    According to Krantz, Ewers, following his arrest, contacted his biological daughter and told her not to comment about what had happened to her in the past. Krantz said Ewers told her “I hope we can keep this between us.” Krantz said he is believed to have assaulted her sexually when she was a teenager.
    Krantz said a cell phone belonging to Ewers was confiscated during a search of his mother’s residence in Bedford County. He said the phone contained images of child pornography.
    Also, during the statement of evidence, Krantz said there was evidence that Ewers contacted his girlfriend in Florida and instructed her to burn some items he had there.
    “She said it had been taken care of,” Krantz said of the conversations captured between Ewers and the woman.
    The sentence agreed upon exceeds the guidelines, taking into account the Ewers' total behavior, Krantz said.
    In addition to the 15 years of active prison time and 10 years of supervised probation, Ewers is also banned from having any contact with minor children and will have to register as a sex offender.
    Krantz said Campbell County has the option of prosecuting Ewers on the alleged incident that occurred there.
    Had the case gone to trial, Krantz said the victim would have made a good witness. But, he said, the plea agreement allowed her to start school this week without having the scheduled Aug. 28 trial date hanging over her head.
    Ewers was arrested on the charges Feb. 6 and indicted by a Bedford grand jury in May. He has been in jail since his arrest.