A Rome man pleaded guilty Wednesday to assaulting three young women and was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by the same amount of time on probation.

According to Rome Circuit Assistant District Attorney Michael Bryan:

Austin Gaige Barton, 20, pleaded guilty to sodomy, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, first-degree cruelty to children and theft by extortion in front of Floyd County Superior Court Judge William “Billy” Sparks.

The investigation began when a young woman came forward in early 2019 saying she’d been choked and forcibly sodomized at Mount Berry Mall by Barton, who she knew.

She also reported that he’d done the same thing to her on at least two other occasions and told police there’d been other victims.

When police put out a call out for information, the investigating officer Sgt. William Wacker said, two more women stepped forward and the case against the then 18-year-old Barton grew.

Another young woman reported she’d been forcibly sodomized by Barton in 2018 and a third said he’d threatened her and forced her to send him nude photos of herself.

Barton had other cases where he’d shown impulsive behavior that turned violent when he was told no, Bryan said. In this case, that behavior led to the assault of these young women.

He met the girls through school or dating, Bryan said, and in one instance what was a permissible family gathering turned into an assault.

Barton has remained in jail without bond since his July 15, 2019, arrest. When released from prison, Barton will serve 20 years on probation and have to register as a sex offender.

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