Canton man gets 20 years in prison for domestic violence, child molestation

John Richard Hartsfield
John Richard Hartsfield

Credit: Cherokee County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Cherokee County Sheriff's Office

A 50-year-old Canton man will spend the next two decades in prison for beating his girlfriend and molesting a child, authorities said.

John Richard Hartsfield was convicted last month of aggravated assault, battery, child molestation, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and hindering a 911 call, the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release Friday.

Prosecutors said Hartsfield kicked, punched and strangled his girlfriend in May 2018. When she tried to call 911, he smashed her cellphone.

While investigating the domestic abuse case, Cherokee County deputies learned from a family member that Hartsfield also molested a child and provided her with alcohol, authorities said.

“From the outside, this seemed to be a loving and happy home,” Cherokee County assistant DA Holly Varner said. “In reality, it was anything but. Supposed loved ones of John Hartsfield were tormented by his evil, lustful and violent tendencies to the point where they feared for their lives.”

At Hartsfield’s trial in January, the child testified that the sexual abuse she endured caused her a lifetime of post-traumatic stress. She also told the jury she is afraid of marriage, friendship, trusting others and even having children, calling  Hartsfield’s definition of love “perverted and wrong.”

“This terrifying incident left a victimized woman fearing for her life,” DA Shannon Wallace said in a statement. “With the intervention of law enforcement, she received the help she needed to end a cycle of domestic violence. We are thankful that the same law enforcement involvement also brought an end to the terror for this child.”

Hartsfield was convicted on all charges following two hours of deliberation, prosecutors said.

He was sentenced to 40 years, with the first 20 to be served in prison. Following his release, he must register as a sex offender and spend the rest of his sentence on probation, authorities said. He is also prohibited from contacting his victims or interacting with anyone younger than 18.

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