Seymour man pleads guilty to molestation

A Seymour man could spend up to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of child molesting.

James Alfred Hyland, 47, was arrested Feb. 25 in Jennings County on four Class C felony counts of child molesting and four Class B felony counts of incest.

He was scheduled to stand trial Tuesday in Jennings Circuit Court in Vernon, but that trial was canceled after the guilty plea was submitted to the court by Deputy Prosecutor Drew Dickerson.

If Judge Jonathan W. Webster accepts the plea agreement, Hyland could be sentenced to up to eight years on each count. Those sentences would be served at the same time. The four incest counts would be dismissed as part of the agreement.

Webster will decide the length of the sentences, which will be announced during a sentencing hearing. As of Thursday, a date for that hearing has not been set.

The investigation that led to Hyland’s arrest began after a child told a neighbor about being molested, according to the probable cause affidavit signed by Detective Jim Blevins with the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department.

Police said the investigation revealed several incidents involving Hyland and four children that took place between Jan. 1, 2014, and June 30, 2014, in the home where the children lived.

Detectives and officials with Jennings County Child Protective Services and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southeastern Indiana in Dillsboro interviewed the children July 29, 2014.

All four children told police that Hyland, a registered sex offender in Jackson County, had been abusing them, according to court documents. The children also told police that they were afraid of Hyland and that he had told them not to tell anyone about the abuse, Blevins said.

Blevins and an official with Jennings County Child Protective Services interviewed Hyland on Aug. 5, 2014. During questioning, Hyland denied any wrongdoing, saying he did not touch any of the children inappropriately, according to court documents.

He told police he had been a registered sex offender in Jackson County for six years because of a felony sexual battery case. Hyland pleaded guilty to the charge July 26, 2007, in Jackson Circuit Court.

In the summer of 2014, Hyland was arrested in Jennings County for failing to register as a sex offender, according to court documents. At the time of his arrest, he also listed a Jennings County residence as his home.