AURORA, IN (FOX19) - A man faces a possible 28-year prison sentence after a jury convicted him of molesting a 6-year-old foster child a decade ago, according to the Dearborn County Prosecutor's Office.
The jury deliberated just over three hours before agreeing James Sturgel was guilty on two counts of child molesting, prosecutors said. His sentencing date is not yet scheduled.
Dearborn County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard credited Aurora Police Detective Vernon McBride for a thorough investigation "that led to the conviction of a very dangerous pedophile."
"James Sturgel has been molesting young children since he was 10 years old," Negangard wrote in a prepared statement. "The only way to protect innocent children from him is by putting him in prison.
"Thanks to Detective Vernon McBride and the citizens of Dearborn County who served on this jury, (Sturgel) will be in prison for a very long time."
The case stems back to 2006 and 2007, when the Indiana Department of Child Services placed the child in foster care. The foster mother, Deborah Chaney, would frequently visit Sturgel's mother, who is her cousin and with whom she now lives, prosecutors said.
Brenda Sturgel was aware her son had been in sex offender treatment as a juvenile, but the victim was left alone with him anyway on multiple occasions in which he molested her, they said.
The victim didn't disclose what happened until 2011, when she told her grandfather, according to the prosecutor's office.
By that time, James Sturgel was serving a 15-year sentence for child molesting. This victim, 5, was molested in 2008 and also was under Deborah Chaney's care at the time as her babysitter and then living with Brenda Sturgel, according to Negangard.
James Sturgel was released from prison in November and has been incarcerated at the Dearborn County jail