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Dad pleads guilty to indecent liberties with daughters' friends

Posted August 4, 2011
Updated August 5, 2011

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— A Johnston County man pleaded guilty Thursday to 10 counts of taking indecent liberties with a child in connection with sex crimes against three young girls who were friends with his daughters.

John Eric Dutton, 45, of 112 Amberley Court in Garner, was sentenced to eight to 10 years in prison and must register as a sex offender upon his release.

Four of the counts were Alford pleas, where a defendant doesn't have to admit guilt but accepts a plea because it is in his or her best interest.

The parent of one of the victims, who was 8 years old at the time of the crimes in 2009 and 2010, said that Dutton was a trusted family friend and that she feels betrayed by what he did.

"He was so involved in the school and the community with so many children," the mother said. "It's been heartbreaking."

Johnston County Assistant District Attorney Paul Jackson said that Dutton would inappropriately touch the girls when they visited his home for play dates and slumber parties with his two young daughters.

Dutton's daughters were not present at the time of the crimes, which also included Dutton exposing himself, fondling the children and soliciting them to perform sex acts, Jackson said. Defense attorney Patrick Roberts said his client denied at least one of the allegations.

John Dutton Dad pleads guilty to indecent liberties charges

One child admitted to her parents what was happening and said that Dutton told her not to tell.

The parents had become worried and took their daughter to a therapist when she started crying, stopped eating and started losing weight.

Jackson said that the girl admitted that she was worried that Dutton might "do things" to other girls.

"Every one of these parents believed their children was going to be safe with him," Jackson told Superior Court Judge Tom Locke.

Speaking in court, the father of one of the victims said he felt like he had disappointed his daughter by not protecting her from Dutton.

"I blame myself," he said. "I did not see him for the individual that he is. I have to personally live with that. It will cost my daughter for the rest of her life."

Another parent called Dutton a threat to society.

"He took advantage of her innocence," the mother said. "He is a predator of the worst kind."

Dutton's children were present Thursday and made tearful pleas with the court.

"I beg on my knees that my daddy hardly gets any time in prison," one of his daughters read from a statement. "He has always been by my side. … I truly hope you see how much I need my daddy."

Roberts said his client, an Iraq war veteran, realizes the impact his conduct has had on the victims' lives.

"Certainly, we understand the anger and the grief of the families. I don't have an explanation. I wouldn't venture to offer one," Roberts said. "There is good in this man."

"He has potential to do better," he added

But Jackson said child molesters don't look like dangerous people.

"This strikes fear into the heart of every parent," he said. "You can never see it coming."


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  • ufcx3 Aug 5, 2011

    oh & i didnt mean i dont trust them i meant, in general some ppl cant trust their own...

  • ufcx3 Aug 5, 2011

    hellorhighwaters :

    I never thought about it like that. I'm SOrry for what you went through. No none should have to go through that.
    I'm young & still have a lot to learn I guess. But i never saw it that way. What I meant by trusting no one but family meant, me trusting my mom & sister & husband. But you are correct. Sometimes you cant even trust them at some extents. you never know I guess. Life is hard :(

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Aug 5, 2011

    Who's idea was it to have the children beg for their father?

    That's more disgusting to me than all that's gone before in this situation which is pretty disgusting and is another indication to me how this beast manipulates people.

    Child molesters should NEVER get less than a life sentence because -

    1. It's the sentence they imposed on their young victims who will carry this taint with them for the rest of their lives.


    2. It will keep all other children safe from them for their rest of their lives.

    To do anything else endangers additional children, and it's incomprehensible to me our justice system is so lenient on them.

  • uncw05 Aug 5, 2011

    JennaRink- they were repeating what they heard from the lawyer. It's what news outlets do. The lawyer is the one who should have left it out.

  • angel09 Aug 5, 2011

    As someone very close to this story...this man or should I say, coward, predator, liar, well you get my point, should have gotten 160 yrs based on the charges. There comes a time where the children do have to come first. They are hero's for coming forward and protecting other children from him. I can say with 100% clarity that he will not enjoy one day of his sentence. Some things just aren't tolerated, even in prisons. As for the mother... no one is that dumb and clueless!!! Just keep these children in your prayers because it is time for healing. As for John Dutton...now all he has is time!!!

  • JennaRink Aug 5, 2011

    I haven't read any of the comments posted to this, and probably won't since I'd like to just forget about this whole article. However, I'm just wondering WHY the "iraq war veteren" was even added?! There are many problems these guys have to face & overcome when returning from war, but molesting small children is NOT one of them! He's a disgrace to the military and WRAL would have been wise to leave those 3 words OUT of this story.

  • shortcake53 Aug 5, 2011

    I have tried to put myself in his wife's shoes. I cannot imagine the degree of humiliation, disgust, and betrayal she must be feeling. And for his children, I am so sorry. They did not deserve the disgrace he brought to his family. I hope he is punished as harshly as possible.

  • killkillington Aug 5, 2011

    I have followed these stories for many years. I was saying that some offenders are offenders because of pictures and shouldnt be lumped together with this man

  • jcrew1979 Aug 5, 2011

    I agree sykesjody!! NASTY!!!!!!!!!!

  • anne53ozzy Aug 5, 2011

    Killkillington sounds like he or she is questionalbe to me.