Man admits to child molest charge hours before trial

GREENFIELD — Less than 24 hours before he was set to face a Hancock County jury, a Greenfield man accused of molesting a child took a deal after learning his taped confession would be used against him in the trial.

William Schini, 47, pleaded guilty to a Class A felony of child molesting at a last-minute hearing Monday afternoon in Hancock Circuit Court. Because his admission came late in the proceedings, Schini’s sentence will be left up to Judge Richard Culver to decide.

He returns to court to face sentencing Feb. 2; he faces a penalty of 20 to 50 years, Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said.

Ten other child abuse-related felony counts — eight of which were added to the Schini’s case at the end of December — were dismissed as part of the agreement. Those additional charges included allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor and additional counts of child molesting.

A girl came forward in late 2014 to report Schini had been abusing her since the summer of 2011, according to court records.

Police said during their investigation, Schini admitted to abusing the girl. He voluntarily came to the Greenfield Police Department after hearing of the allegations and wanted to know what the victim had accused him of doing, court records state.

He first spoke to detectives in the lobby of the police department and then again in a formal interview, during which he signed a form waiving his right to have an attorney present, court documents state.

Schini’s defense attorney, Michael Boring of New Palestine, argued at a hearing last week the confession was obtained unethically because Schini asked several times about a public defender while speaking with police.

Detectives countered Schini talked about a public defender but never refused to speak or asked for a lawyer to represent him. After reviewing the tape, Culver ruled the confession would be admissible in court.

Schini’s trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday morning. Following a hearing last week, Culver said he’d give prosecutors and defense attorneys leeway to work out a plea agreement.

Schini had faced 11 felony charges: six counts of sexual misconduct with a minor; two counts of child molestation; one count of sexual battery; one count of attempted child molestation; and one count of attempted sexual misconduct with a minor.

Deputy prosecutor Georgeanna Teipen said she did not believe those additional charges would have had an impact on Schini’s sentence.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.