A Thornville, Ohio, man was sentenced to community control and will be forced to register as a sex offender after a hearing in Delaware County Common Pleas Court Friday.
Christopher L. Bateman, 55, appeared in court Friday morning to be sentenced for a count of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony and a count of public indecency, a fifth-degree felony.
At the hearing, Assistant Delaware County Prosecutor Amelia Bean-DeFlumer said that on July 21 two underage girls, 12 and 13, were visiting Zoombezi Bay where they encountered Bateman. Bean-DeFlumer said Bateman touched the girls on the buttocks while they were all in a pool, exposed himself to them and touched them with his genitals.
Bateman was indicted on Oct. 16 and charged with two counts of gross sexual imposition, third-degree felonies; a count of sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor and a charge of public indecency, a fifth-degree felony.
Bateman was scheduled to stand trial on Jan. 29 but before the trial he had reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.
At the change of plea hearing, Bateman entered an Alford plea to a count of gross sexual imposition and the public indecency charge. An Alford plea means Bateman is maintaining his innocence but believes the evidence is strong enough that he will be convicted and is pleading guilty to get a lesser sentence than he would if he stood trial for all the charges.
As part of the plea agreement, both parties would recommend no more incarceration for Bateman. He spent 79 days in jail between his arrest and his change of plea hearing.
At the hearing on Friday, Bean-DeFlumer said the incident has had a “huge” impact on the victims in the case, one of whom was in court Friday but did not wish to speak. Bean-DeFlumer added that Bateman has prior convictions for public indecency.
Bateman’s attorney, Adam Chaudry, said that the 79 days spent in the Delaware County Jail had a “tremendous” impact on Bateman. Chaudry said Bateman regrets any trouble he may have caused the girls. Chaudry noted Bateman’s last public indecency charge was 23 years ago.
Gormley ordered that Bateman be placed on community control for four years and said that if Bateman violates his probation he will be subject to up to 48 months in prison. Gormley added that Bateman must register as a tier II sex offender.
Gormley said Bateman’s conduct was “certainly troubling” and said the fact that Bateman was implying the girls were lying was only causing them more harm.
“You have a problem, sir,” Gormley told Bateman Friday morning. “I hope you get some help.”
Gormley said Bateman must register as a tier II sex offender.
Officials from the Columbus Zoo reported Friday that Bateman has been banned for life
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.