No jail for ex-deputy marshal

A former Hartsville deputy town marshal who admitted text-messaging sexually explicit material to a 12-year-old girl will not be sent to prison.

With the consent of the victim’s mother, a 2½-year suspended sentence for Lyn A. Nunemaker, 51, was handed down Thursday by Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann.

But Nunemaker, who pleaded guilty April 4 to attempted dissemination of material harmful to minors, was ordered to register as a sex offender.

Under terms of the sentencing, the professional toolmaker will have to follow 22 separate conditions of probation that prohibit such things as electronic messaging, contact with the victim, and being near schools and playgrounds.

In addition, an evaluation was ordered to determine whether he should be subject to electronic monitoring for the next 30 months.

The girl’s mother agreed to the suspended sentence after learning that since Nunemaker has no criminal history, the judge could not legally keep him behind bars for more than a year for a Level 6 felony, deputy prosecutor Kathleen Burns said.

However, state law allowed Heimann to impose the maximum 30-month sentence if the time was suspended, the judge said.

Nunemaker was arrested July 17 after an investigation by the Indiana State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Unit. After checking the 12-year-old’s cellphone, detectives found sexually explicit photos and text messages sent between July 13 and 17 from a telephone number assigned to Nunemaker, according to a court affidavit filed by Indiana State Police investigator Christopher Howell.

The messages include graphic descriptions of sexual activity the sender wished to engage in with the girl, and requests that she send him sexually explicit photos, the affidavit states.

When interviewed by investigators, Nunemaker said he sent the messages and told investigators he was aware the recipient was 12, Howell wrote.

During Thursday’s sentencing, the judge cited a therapist report which stated Nunemaker has worked diligently while completing the first six months of a three-year psycho-sexual treatment program with the Broad Ripple Counseling Center.

By suspending the sentence, rather than imposing a prison or jail term, the judge can maintain jurisdiction to ensure Nunemaker completes the sex-offender program, Heimann said.

Testimony was also given by the defendant’s current employer and 12-step alcoholism program sponsor that Nunemaker, who testified he consumed up to 15 beers daily prior to his arrest, has successfully battled his alcoholism for the past 11 months.

While on the stand Thursday, the victim’s mother stated that Nunemaker violated the trust both she and her daughter had in him as a friend and law enforcement officer.

“This incident has changed our lives in a negative and profound way,” the mother said. “Something precious and irreplaceable has been taken from our daughter.”

But she also told Nunemaker that she prays daily he will experience a transformation and true realization that seeking sex from a 12-year-old girl is “sick.”

Nunemaker, who described his own actions as deplorable, displayed emotion while testifying in his own defense.

“I’ve hurt a lot of people, and I didn’t mean to hurt them,” Nunemaker said with a quivering voice. “I wish I could take it back, but I can’t. I’m sorry.”

In exchange for his guilty plea to a Level 6 felony, prosecutors agreed to drop the more significant charge of child solicitation, a Level 5 felony, against Nunemaker.

Lyn Nunemaker served as a voluntary deputy marshal for about a year, starting when his wife — Christie Nunemaker — was appointed town marshal, a paid, part-time job.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.