GREENFIELD — The wife of a man convicted of sexual assault admitted this week that she told her husband’s victim not to report the abuse to police.
Investigators say Lisa Early, 38, 7038 E. 10th St., Indianapolis, begged a girl not to go to police after Early learned her husband forced the girl to have sex with him repeatedly for years. Early will now serve four years on probation after pleading guilty to neglect of a dependent as a Class C felony.
Her husband, 39-year-old James Early of Indianapolis, was charged with one count of sexual misconduct with a minor as a Class B felony; he later accepted a plea deal and is now serving a 13-year prison sentence.
Lisa Early, too, accepted a plea agreement, which called for her to plead guilty to the one Class C felony count of neglect of a dependent she faced. She appeared in Hancock Circuit Court recently, where Judge Richard Culver ordered she serve time on probation.
If she violates her probation, however, she will be sent to prison to finish her sentence, according the terms of the plea agreement.
The victim came forward last year; the girl told police James Early often acted like she was his girlfriend and regularly gave her alcohol and drugs, including marijuana and anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, she told police. Sometimes, he became violent with her and would hit and choke her, which made her fear him, she told investigators.
Eventually, the victim found the courage to confront James Early, telling the man she was going to the police about their relationship, court documents state. Days later, she received a phone call from the man’s wife and learned he’d told the woman about the allegations, reports state.
Lisa Early called the victim to say “she always knew something was going on” between her husband and the girl, and she wanted the girl to know she had forgiven both of them, court documents state.
The girl told police Lisa Early asked her not to tell anyone about what James Early had done, according to police reports. The victim reported the abuse a few months later, records state.
After the victim spoke with police, detectives contacted the Earlys for more information. Lisa Early then nervously questioned the girl about whether she’d spoken to anyone about James Early, court documents state.
“A detective called me yesterday wanting to question me and wouldn’t tell me what (it) is about,” one text message from Lisa Early read, according to court documents. “I was scared you said something.”
James Early faced one count of sexual misconduct with a minor as a Class B felony, which carries a penalty of six to 20 years and up to $10,000 in fines. He also faced one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor as a Class A misdemeanor and one count of intimidation as a Class A misdemeanor; each carries a penalty of one year and up to $5,000 in fines.
He pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct with a minor as a Class B felony; the other charges he faced were dropped in the plea agreement. He’s currently being held in the New Castle Correctional Facility, according to prison records. The earliest he will eligible for release is February 2023, at which point he’ll serve two years on probation.
Lisa Early faced a single count of neglect as a Class C felony; the charge carries a penalty range of two to eight years and up to $10,000 in fines, though a four-year sentence is advised.
She will start her time on probation immediately. She did not speak during her sentencing hearing late last week.