HILLSBORO — One of two high-profile child sex abuse cases came to a conclusion Thursday in Highland County Common Pleas Court with James McCartney pleading guilty to five of the 16 charges against him, resulting in a total of 13 years of prison time for the Rocky Fork Lake area man.
In a plea agreement, McCartney pled guilty to one count of trafficking in persons, a first-degree felony; and guilty to four of 15 counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor, each felonies of the fourth degree.
Final sentencing was delayed by over 30 minutes to allow McCartney to consult with his attorney, J.D. Wagoner, in order to gain clarification on the pandering obscenity charges he was pleading guilty to.
Prior to sentencing, McCartney asked Judge Rocky Coss to take into consideration his claim to being a “model citizen” since his convictions on similar charges in both California and Clinton County happened several years ago.
“Seeing that this is 2021, I’ve been almost a model citizen for quite a few years, I haven’t had a traffic ticket,” he said, also asking that Coss consider his medical condition.
Citing the severity of the first count, a first-degree felony charge of trafficking in persons, Coss sentenced McCartney to a mandatory minimum sentence of 11 years in prison, with a maximum possible sentence of 16.5 years, in addition to designating him a Tier III sex offender, meaning he will have to register with local law enforcement every 90 days for the rest of his life.
Coss ordered the sentence to be served consecutively with the six months each McCartney received on four counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor, which due to being fourth-degree felonies gave him the additional designation of being a Tier II sex offender that would require him to register every 180 days for 25 years.
In sentencing, Coss waived any fines that he could have been imposed, instead ordering McCartney to pay court costs and crediting him for 112 days jail time already served.
McCartney’s troubles began with his arrest on March 1 after a female acquaintance revealed graphic Facebook messages to Highland County sheriff’s deputies, according to an affidavit filed with the Hillsboro Municipal Court.
A complaint and arrest warrant from Hillsboro Municipal Court was then filed against McCartney, alleging that between Feb. 25-26, 2021, he “did knowingly attempt to recruit, lure, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, or maintain another person,” when he knew that the other person “will be subjected to involuntary servitude or be compelled to engage in sexual activity for hire.”
The complaint further alleged that McCartney’s motivation was to procure a young girl and to have her “engage in a performance that is obscene, sexually oriented, or nudity oriented, or be a model or participant in the production of material that is obscene, sexually oriented or nudity oriented.”
The affidavit stated that the woman who reported the incident and her brother came to the sheriff’s office on the evening of Feb. 25 with information regarding McCartney’s alleged solicitation to her via Facebook to obtain a young girl for sexual activity.
The woman provided a deputy with the Facebook messages she had received, which stated in graphic detail what he intended to do with the girl.