A Canton man was sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing a child multiple times during the summer of 2018, the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Johnathan Collins, 39, “repeatedly violated a little girl over a period of weeks, escalating his behavior when he knew she would keep a secret,” Assistant District Attorney Leyna Pope said in a statement. “He abused her trust, stole her innocence, and scared her into silence. Nine months after he committed his crimes, this little girl had the courage to begin to disclose the nightmare she endured at his hands.”
The girl, whose age was not disclosed, had been visiting Collins that summer but confided in a third-grade classmate the following year in May, prosecutors said. That friend then told a teacher, and the school alerted law enforcement to the allegations.
In a forensic interview, the girl described multiple crimes that Collins committed against her over the course of her stay with him, according to prosecutors. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office arrested Collins by that June.
During the three-day trial, the jury heard testimony from 10 people and watched the victim’s forensic interview, a news release states. Collins also testified on his own behalf.
The jury deliberated for about two hours before finding Collins guilty of all 13 charges he faced, including rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, child molestation and cruelty to children, the release states.
“This defendant hurt a little girl in unspeakable ways. While he was able to scare her into silence at the time of the abuse, he was not able to keep her silent. She displayed incredible courage throughout the prosecution of this case. With this guilty verdict, this child no longer has to live in fear,” District Attorney Shannon Wallace said in a statement. “And our community is safer with this man no longer able to prey on innocent children.”
Following his conviction, Collins was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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