Man Pleads Guilty, Ending Child Molestation Trial

A Stephens County man ends his trial on child molestation by pleading guilty on modified charges.

79-year-old Byard Donald Charles pleaded guilty on Wednesday in Stephens County Superior Court, ending his trial, which was already underway.

Charles pleaded guilty to one count of Felony Sexual Battery and one count of First Degree Cruelty to Children.

He was then sentenced to 90 days in a probation detention center, 18 months house arrest in which he must wear a GPS monitor anklet, and then 20 years probation.

The sentence states that he may remain home until a bed opens in the probation detention center for him to serve his 90 days.

Also, the sentence says he is to have no contact with the victim and pay a $2,000 fine.

Charles had been charged with child molestation in connection to alleged incidents between September 2005 and August 2010.

During opening statements in the trial on Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Rick Bridgeman told the jury that Charles had touched the victim inappropriately.

Meanwhile, Defense Attorney Tim Healy had told jurors the evidence would show there were several inconsistencies in the victim’s story.

Charles entered his plea as the trial moved through the testimony phase.