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Local

Woman admits to allowing child sex abuse

A Newton woman has pleaded guilty to two charges connected to a sexual abuse case in which she knowingly allowed the sexual abuse of a child and tampered with physical evidence.

Michelle M. Wortman, 40, entered guilty pleas for child endangerment and interference with official acts on Monday. Last week, a jury trial found 49-year-old Berlou Barnard guilty of four counts of second-degree sexual abuse and one count of obstruction in the case.

The two were arrested Oct. 16, 2015, after the mother of the victim reported her daughter had been sexually abused by Barnard, who is a registered sex offender. The child had visits with Barnard under the stipulation Wortman, his live-in girlfriend, was present for supervision.

The victim reported four incidents in which she was sexually abused by Barnard. According to court documents, Wortman walked in on at least two of these incidents but did not tell the child’s parents about it. The victim described several items involved in the sexual abuse, which were found during a search of the property.

In her written guilty plea, Wortman admitted to allowing the continued sexual abuse of the child. She also admitted trying to obstruct the prosecution of a person by altering, concealing or disguising physical evidence that would be admissible at trial.

Wortman has a court hearing scheduled for April 16 at the Jasper County Courthouse. A separate court hearing for Barnard is set for March 13. He remains in the Jasper County Jail until he is sentenced; a sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.

Contact Abigail Pelzer at 641-792-3121 ext. 6530 or apelzer@newtondailynews.com

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