A Floyd County man was sentenced to life in prison on 27 charges including multiple counts of child molestation, aggravated sodomy and rape.
After weighing testimony from the three victims of 33-year-old Stephen Jeremy Chatman, Floyd County Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach sentenced him to seven life sentences and 225 years, all to run concurrently. Essentially, that means Chatman is sentenced serve one life sentence in prison which puts him eligible for parole in approximately 30 years.
Chatman was found guilty on all charges on Sept. 25 by a Floyd County jury after an hour and a half deliberation.
Assistant District Attorney Leah Mayo requested that Chatman be sentenced with the separate life sentences to run consecutively — meaning Chatman would have had to serve each sentence before beginning the next one.
She told the court the children need to finish their childhood and grow up to be adults without ever fearing Chatman would touch them again.
Niedrach said that the life sentences will trump the smaller sentences which would allow probation, however Chatman would be eligible for parole if he qualifies.
The judge, however, did order a life-time restraining order against Chatman so he would not be able to get near the three children if he were granted parole.
“We felt very strongly he never needs to get out of prison and never has the opportunity to harm another child again,” District Attorney Leigh Patterson said after the sentencing hearing.
Prior to the sentencing, Mayo outlined the crimes. Chatman’s first victim was a boy who endured the abuse for years, beginning when he was 8 years old. He’d even reached out to a relative, who ignored him.
After several years he told a school counselor who alerted the foster parents of the other two victims.
All three victims — two girls and a boy — testified at the trial.
Mayo said that Chatman encountered the children often and, “the abuse only stopped when the kids went into foster care and he lost access.”
Chatman was arrested in January and indicted by a grand jury in March.
Chatman did not speak to the court during sentencing.
However, the foster father of two of the victims spoke prior to the sentencing.
“It’s devastating. I’m here today to speak for these girls and whatever needs to be done is done,” he said.