Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger announces that Thomas Alan Miller, 49, of Mexico, has been sentenced to 43 years having been found guilty of one count of Child Molestation in the First Degree, two counts of Statutory Sodomy in the Second Degree, two counts of Child Molestation in the Second Degree, and one count each of Child Abuse and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
Miller was sentenced by Circuit Judge Wesley C. Dalton. Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Ashley Turner and Kelsey Blackwell and Shellabarger tried the case July 30-31 to an Audrain County jury of seven women and five men. The jury found Miller guilty of each of the seven charges after deliberating for nearly five hours.
“Thomas Alan Miller took no responsibility for the repeated abuse, pain and suffering he caused to this survivor,” Turner said. “This brave, smart, artistic, and beautiful young woman had the courage to rise above her abuser’s power and control to tell this jury and our community about what happened to her. Thanks to this jury’s decision, she can grow stronger, more confident and discover who she is beyond this abuse. The jury was very attentive to the evidence, and stayed focused on the facts through the entire two-day trial, and I commend them for their verdict. Child sexual abuse is a cowardly crime. It’s a secret crime that makes a child feel as if they’ve done something wrong, and can scar a child’s body and their spirit. This jury has delivered a powerful message to this community that those who hurt our most vulnerable deserve the maximum sentence the law allows.”
“The sentence in this case is appropriate and firm given the circumstances of this case,” Turner said. “It says wonders about our community when an envelope of support surrounds a young woman who needs its support to share her story. Our victim’s advocate, Debra Cheshier, and our community victims’ advocacy groups, including ACCIS, and the Mid-Mo Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse, have been patient beyond measure and supportive through the entire criminal justice process, and will continue to provide that wrap-around support that is crucial for young victims–that they are supported, safe and protected.”
“However, this courageous young woman has remained strong and vibrant despite a toxic atmosphere in our local schools.” Shellabarger said. “She has been the target of verbal and physical harassment, gossip and bullying–for something she never wanted, asked for, expected, or deserved. Shame on those who would hurt the innocent and the vulnerable. We all must do a better job of protecting victims–and it starts with each family in our community. This reprehensible abuse often goes undetected by the school system–but can be stopped by parents, educators and community members who care enough to ask., ‘What if that were my daughter? What if that were my son?’ Our community must make sure the victim-blaming mentality is put to rest, as this victim has faced vicious treatment from others in the community only for telling the truth about her abuser.”
“The multidisciplinary team cooperative approach to working child abuse and sexual abuse cases yields better results for victims,” Shellabarger said. “This case brought together the Mexico Public Safety Department, the Rainbow House Child Advocacy Center, and my office to provide a clear, consistent, and thorough investigation and prosecution with the safety of the victim and the community first. It is the team concept of experience, knowledge and combined resources allowed this case to be fully investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law allowing justice to prevail for this family. Detective Jay Thompson and the Mexico Public Safety Department worked tirelessly to make sure all available evidence was found, explained and documented in a professional manner. APA Ashley Turner’s hard work paid off in a well tried case and a just, strong sentence.”