Two years after being found not guilty of sexually abusing a child in Philadelphia, a man was convicted of molesting the same child in Gwinnett County, authorities said.
Steven Towns, 62, was found guilty on two counts of child molestation for groping a girl in a Loganville home, the county’s district attorney’s office said in a Tuesday news release.
He was in a relationship with the victim’s mother. AJC.com does not identify victims of sex-related crimes.
In 2006, Towns started his relationship with the child’s mother when the girl was 5 years old, the release said. They lived in Philadelphia for about six years before the girl and her mother moved to Loganville to take care of a family member.
Towns made several trips to visit them, and he’s accused of groping the child during one of those visits, the release said. The girl was 12 or 13 at the time, and she said she woke up from a nap on the couch to find Towns inappropriately touching her before she pushed him away.
The child also alleged that Towns molested, groped and attempted to rape her when she was younger in Philadelphia, the release said. She told her family about the incidents in June 2015, which led to Towns being arrested in Georgia and Pennsylvania.
His first trial was in September 2017 in Philadelphia, where a jury found him not guilty on all counts, the release said. The victim’s family was “devastated” by the decision and considered whether pursuing the case in Gwinnett was worth it, the DA’s office said.
They eventually decided to bring Towns to court, and the case went to trial Monday morning, the release said. Towns asked for a bench trial instead of a jury trial, meaning Judge George Hutchinson would solely decide the verdict.
Pretrial motions prevented Towns from mentioning his not guilty verdict to a jury, the release said.
The DA’s office said it believes Towns requested a bench trial since he hoped “Hutchinson’s awareness of the Philadelphia acquittal would factor into his decision regarding guilt or innocent for the Gwinnett crimes.”
Hutchinson found Towns guilty on both counts of child molestation and sentenced him to nine years in prison followed by 21 years on probation, the release said. He’ll also have to register as a sex offender upon his release.
While issuing Towns’ sentence, Hutchinson added that because he was acquitted of all crimes in Philadelphia, “it was important to not punish him for what it’s alleged that he did there but rather for his Gwinnett County crimes,” the release said.
Zachary Hansen, a Georgia native, covers economic development and commercial real estate for the AJC. He's been with the newspaper since 2018 and enjoys diving into complex stories that affect people's lives.