Judge, prosecutor ‘frustrated’ by battery case

COLUMBIA CITY — In a “frustrating” sexual battery case, a Columbia City man was sentenced to 8 years by Whitley County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Rentschler on June 18.

Arik Sparks, 24, pleaded guilty to sexual battery after four counts of rape and one count of invasion of privacy were dismissed, due to the testimony of the victim.

Sparks was previously charged with four counts of rape, Level 3 felonies, and invasion of privacy, a Class A misdemeanor.

Sparks was arrested for domestic battery in early December, resulting in a no-contact order, according to court documents. Sparks was then released from jail on bond on Dec. 29.

Following his release, Sparks violated the no-contact order and reportedly raped the victim multiple times that day.

As the case progressed, the victim’s beliefs changed.

Prosecutor D.J. Sigler explained in court the difficulty with these cases comes from the way victims begin to doubt their own trauma as the time passes, to the point that they forgive their abusers.

The victim took the stand on Sparks’ behalf, testifying their relationship was good and stating, “I want [him] to get the help he needs.”

During the sentencing, Prosecutor D.J. Sigler and Judge Rentschler voiced their frustration with the case.

“I believe something more serious happened there,” Sigler said, frustrated with the lack of ability to prove his beliefs in trial and guarantee the victim the protection that the law offers her.

“It’s frustrating because what you did is a horrible thing,” Judge Rentschler told Sparks.

Despite Sparks’ initial charges of four counts of rape, level 3 felonies, he was sentenced to 8 years, with 2.5 to serve at the Department of Corrections, and 110 days of jail credit for time served, with the new sentence consecutive to previous sentences.

In other Whitley Circuit Court news:

• Austin Reiff, 25, of South Whitley pleaded guilty to possession of a narcotic drug, a level 5 felony, an offense which was committed while serving home detention in Whitley County for Wabash County. Reiff was sentenced to four years to be executed in the work release program, consecutive to his sentencing in the Wabash case.

• Ronda Wolfe, 51, of Columbia City, was sentenced to a total of 12 years incarceration with six years to serve for level 3 and level 4 felonies after taking a gun from her neighbor’s house and had her son hold her ex husband’s lover at gun point for stealing her property.

• James Smith, 19, of Columbia City, pleaded guilty to rape, a level 3 felony, for an offense committed Nov. 8, 2017, in which he compelled the underage victim to have sex by force or by threat of force, using a razor blade. Smith is set to be sentenced in court July 16 and was sent to the Department of Corrections until the sentencing date.

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