Nov. 23—A Walton man was sentenced to 131 years in prison on Tuesday for child molestation, child exploitation, violating a no contact order, and possession of methamphetamine.
David Avalle, 46, was accused of having a sexual relationship with an 11-year-old child for a period of about six months. According to evidence presented by the state at Avalle's sentencing, Avalle recorded video of the child performing sexual acts and constructed a machine .
Avalle plead guilty to six Level 1 felony counts of child molesting, one Level 4 felony count of child exploitation, one Level 6 felony count of possession of methamphetamine, and a Class A misdemeanor for invasion of privacy.
Cass County Prosecutor Noah Schafer and Avalle's lawyer Andrew Achey both presented evidence at the sentencing in Cass County Superior Court II for Judge Lisa Swaim.
When Schafer asked the victim's mother about her recommendation for Avalle's sentence, the mother asked for the maximum sentence.
"When he was released, that was the most terrifying thing that my family has ever been through," she said. "...He does not deserve to be free again, and my family does not deserve to be terrified."
Schafer called on the victim's family members to describe the effects of the ordeal on the family. Multiple members of the victim's family also wrote letters to the court expressing fear toward Avalle and requesting a lengthy prison sentence.
The victim's grandfather said the child and the child's mother stayed with him after Avalles was arrested. When Avalles was released on bail, he said it "threw our family into chaos" and described purchasing a home security system and a gun for protection.
"We were terrified," because of letters found in Avalle's jail cell, he said. Avalle later admitted to writing over 400 love letters to his victim while in jail.
The victim's grandfather detailed efforts to hide his grandchild, including sending the child out of state. He also showed Avalle's photo to any adults in charge of the child so they were aware of the situation and knew what Avalle looked like. The grandfather said he and the victim's mother were concerned that Avalle was stalking their family.
Despite a no contact order, Avalle reached out to the child over social media. The Instagram account he used referenced nicknames he had given. Avalle was taken back to jail and his bond was revoked.
The victim's grandfather asked for Avalle to be sentenced to 200 years in prison because of the stress the family has undergone and the fear of what would happen if Avalle were ever released.
"We do not want (the victim's mother), we do not want (the victim) looking at the calendar thinking about when he gets out," he said.
The victim's mother also spoke to the court about the effect Avalle's actions had on her child. She said her child has attempted self-harm multiple times since Avalle's arrest and receives counseling from three separate therapists.
After Schafer questioned the state's witnesses, Achey questioned Avalle's ex-wife, children, and mitigation specialist.
Achey mentioned that Avalle's phone contained over 70,000 photos of clouds and questioned whether Avalle was living in reality. He said Avalle even drove to Pennsylvania to show his mother photos of clouds.
Schafer stated that Avalle was evaluated by two doctors and declared sane and competent.
Avalle's children, who both wrote letters in support of their father, asked for a 20 year sentence that will allow Avalle to be released and continue living his life after prison.
"He's not a person who deserves life in prison if you look at how he's lived his entire life," Kaylee Avalle said. "...Doing that will hurt so many more people than it will benefit. I'm not trying to be insensitive to the other side, but our family is suffering and will continue to suffer for as long as he's sentenced."
Before Achey and Schafer made their closing arguments, Avalle himself addressed the court. His first statement was directed toward his victim, who was not in court.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I failed you. As the adult, I should have protected you and gotten you the help you needed."
He said the 11-year-old filled a void after his adult partner stopped using methamphetamine and got sober. He added that he "fell deeply in love" with the child.
In his closing argument, Achey mentioned that Avalle did everything in his power to minimize the impact to his victim by not requesting to depose or cross examine her in court. He also asked for Swaim to take Avalle's age into consideration so he could potentially see his children get married and meet his future grandchildren.
Achey requested a 20 year sentence. He pointed out that Avalle's crime is credit restricted, so there is no way he could be released until at least 18 years into his sentence when he is 64 or 65 years old.
In his closing argument, Schafer re-iterated the fact that Avalle's victim is only 11 years old and said the child was hurt mentally, emotionally, and physically by Avalle.
"I'm not here to call him a monster, but what he did to that child is monstrous," Schafer said.
Schafer added that Avalle made his own choices and said the behavior was an ongoing pattern over a period of time rather than a single instance. He also said that everyone in the courtroom, including Avalle's family, were victims of his crimes. He recommended a 180 year sentence.
"I do not recommend that lightly," he said.
Swaim considered both sides before announcing Avalle's sentence.
"I think everyone is suffering in this case," she said. "There is no one except for the mitigation specialist who is not suffering for the choices of Mr. Avalle."
Swaim said she believed that Avalle's actions were his own, but she accepted his remorse, the fact that he tried to lessen the trauma to his victim, and his lack of prior criminal history as mitigating factors. She added that she considered the fact that he was molested as a child himself as a non-statutory mitigating factor.
She said that while Avalle consistently said he did not intend to harm the child, "He harmed (the child) to a degree that, even now, (the child) is trying to harm ... and end (the) pain."
Swaim considered the facts that Avalle's actions were an ongoing pattern of behavior and that he violated the no contact order aggravating factors.
"Your actions are the exact opposite of what you should have done," she told Avalle. "I think you know that."
Swaim sentenced Avalle to 30 years in the Indiana Department of Correction for one count of molestation, 20 years each for the remaining molestation charges, two years for child exploitation, two years for possession of methamphetamine, and one year for invasion of privacy for violating the no contact order. Some of the time for counts seven through nine is credited since Avalle had 629 days of credit from his time in jail before the sentencing.
Counts seven and eight are to be served concurrently with the rest of his sentence, but molestation counts one through six and count nine, for the invasion of privacy, must be served consecutively for a total of 131 years in the Indiana Department of Correction.