Guilty plea in texting felony

A former Hartsville deputy town marshal accused of text-messaging sexually explicit material to a 12-year-old girl has pleaded guilty to one felony charge in Bartholomew Circuit Court.

As part of a plea agreement, Lyn A. Nunemaker, 51, of rural Columbus, pleaded guilty Monday to attempted dissemination of material harmful to minors, a Level 6 felony. In exchange, prosecutors have agreed to drop the more significant charge of child solicitation, a Level 5 felony.

In addition, the remaining felony charge could later be reduced to a Class A misdemeanor conviction if all conditions laid down by Judge Stephen Heimann are met, the judge said.

Those conditions include registering as a sex offender while on probation, as well as completing treatment to address sexual and substance-abuse issues.

The defendant, a professional toolmaker who has remained free since posting a $3,500 cash bond last summer, described himself in court Monday as an alcoholic.

If convicted of the original two charges, Nunemaker could have faced a prison term of 18 months to 8½ years and ordered to pay fines of up to $20,000.

But if Heimann accepts the plea agreement, the possible term of incarceration would be reduced to six months to 2½ half years — and the potential fine will drop to $10,000.

A reduction of the felony to a Class A misdemeanor at a later date would mean a jail term of no more than a year, as well as a maximum $5,000 fine.

Sentencing for Nunemaker has been tentatively scheduled for 1:30 p.m. May 12.

He was arrested July 17 after an investigation by the Indiana State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Unit. A no-contact order between Nunemaker and the victim approved that day remains in effect.

After checking the 12-year-old’s mobile phone, 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.

A few hours after being taken into custody, Nunemaker was removed from his unpaid deputy town marshal position by Hartsville Town Council President Steve Rucker.

The defendant is the husband of Hartsville Town Marshal Christie Sims Nunemaker, who had appointed him to the deputy marshal position shortly after she was chosen to replace Alan “A.J.” Ross in July 2014.

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Sentencing for Lyn A. Nunemaker has been tentatively scheduled for 1:30 p.m. May 12 by Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann.