HANCOCK COUNTY – After six hours of deliberations, a Hancock County Circuit Court jury found Kirk Dale Lonas guilty on two of four counts of child molestation. The verdict came in around 8:30 p.m. Friday evening after the jury of eight men and four women were given the case to decide around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon.
While Lonas was found guilty on two Level 4 felony counts of child molestation, the jury found him not guilty on the most serious charges — two Level 1 felony counts of child molest. The Level 4 crimes carry anywhere from two to 12 years in prison.
The next phase of the process calls for a sentencing hearing. Judge Scott Sirk, who oversaw the week-long trial in his court, set Aug. 24 as the sentencing date. Prosecutor Brent Eaton noted that they’ll wait to make a recommendation for time to be served after they see a pre-sentence investigation report.
Lonas has been an inmate in the Hancock County Jail for nearly three years since he was first arrested for the crimes in October of 2020.
Following the reading of the verdict by Sirk late Friday night, Lonas sat at the defense table motionless, but huddled with his public defenders including chief public defender Jeremy Teipen for several minutes following the announcement.
Eaton noted the case against Lonas was a difficult one but that he’s proud of the efforts put forth by his team, including chief deputy prosecutor Aimee Herring, who handled the prosecution and offered a high-five to Eaton after the state secured the two guilty verdicts.
“I’m very pleased with the effort it took to get this case over the finish line,” Eaton said shortly after the verdict was read. “Would have we liked to have a guilty on all four counts? Yes,but we’ll take this as justice for the victims.”
Eaton noted the incidents Lonas was accused of happened well over three years ago, making it difficult for the victims, who are now young teenagers, to have to recall and talk about again.
“That’s a really long time,” Eaton said. “That was almost 25% of the life of the victims who testified.”
Lonas had been accused and charged with molesting two county children who were 12 years old at the time of the incidents. Officials said the crimes against the children started back in 2019 and lasted through 2020.
The case had many twists and turns with Lonas even taking the stand Friday morning in his own defense. He told the jury he had a good relationship with the girls who accused him of molestation, and that he had never abused them or crossed the line.
However, in her closing argument, Herring noted she wasn’t buying his story, saying the two girls had no reason to lie.
Another element in the trial included how one of the girls had made their mother aware of the molestation incidents on two separate occasions, but that the mother had allowed all four of her children to continue to live with Lonas and even be alone with him. The mother has already been arrested, charged and had a case of neglect against her settled stemming from the incidents.
Part of the mother’s sentence noted she had to testify during the four-day trial and tell the truth about the situation.
Lonas had befriended the mother and her four kids and even lived with two of the children on his own stating in 2019 while the mom lived in another state with her other two children. The whole group eventually moved in together in Greenfield, first in the Washington Village Apartments and then in a home. The mother and the victims said they thought of Lonas as a father figure.
However, it was noted by Lonas during his testimony he never had a physical relationship with the children’s mother. It was a question posed by one of the jurors before deliberations.
Lonas remains in the Hancock County Jail under a $150,000 cash bond set by Sirk when Lonas was first arrested.