Man agrees to 12 years for abuse

GREENFIELD — An Indianapolis man accused of sexually assaulting a young boy in the restroom at the Greenfield Walmart last year pleaded guilty Friday ahead of a jury trial that was set for next week.

David A. Paterson, 27, of Indianapolis, was charged with child molesting after a 7-year-old told police the man assaulted him in February 2015 after following him into the restroom, according to court documents.

Paterson accepted an agreement from prosecutors Friday in which he pleaded guilty to a Level 4 felony charge of child molesting. He’s agreed to serve a 12-year sentence, prosecutors said, but a judge will determine what portion of that sentence will be spent in a prison or jail cell.

A 12-year sentence is the maximum penalty allowed for Level 4 felony charge, according to court records.

Paterson’s case gained national attention after being featured on “Nancy Grace” and continued to draw headlines as prosecutors and the defendant’s attorneys repeatedly battled about where the case would be heard and whether the young victim was competent to testify in court.

Prosecutors were preparing to argue their case against Paterson beginning Monday in Hancock County Superior Court 1. Deputy Prosecutor John Keiffner said he anticipated a two-day trial.

Instead, Paterson will return for sentencing next month, prosecutors said.

Paterson is already on the sex offender registry; he was placed on the list in March 2010 after pleading guilty to child molestation in an unrelated case, according to court records.

Police began investigating Paterson last year after a young boy told his mother a stranger climbed into the bathroom stall he was using and fondled him, court documents state.

The boy’s mother reported the allegations to police, and detectives used Paterson’s sex offender profile to identify him in the security camera footage from the store, court documents state.

The video showed Paterson entering the restroom around the same time as the boy, police said.

Indianapolis attorney Bradley Keffer, one of Paterson’s defense lawyers, petitioned the court in August to move the case out of Hancock County.

The attorney filed a motion for a change of venue, saying residents might treat his client unfairly because of media reports that highlighted Paterson’s history as a sex offender. The motion was denied.

A few months later, Keffer asked a judge to bar the victim in the case from testifying in court, claiming the boy had changed his story during court proceedings and didn’t understand the difference between a truth and a lie. That motion, too, was denied.

Keffer did not return calls for comment.

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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.