Judge sentences convicted child rapist to 93 years in prison

Published 11:27 pm Monday, September 18, 2017

A judge sentenced a Carter County man to 93 years in prison in connection with a child sexual abuse case where the man pled guilty to raping an infant.

Mark Alan Gwaltney, 51, of Elizabethton, appeared in Carter County Criminal Court on Sept. 13 for a sentencing hearing. In May, Gwaltney entered guilty pleas to charges of two counts of aggravated rape of a child, one count of aggravated sexual battery, five counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and one count of solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor – over 50 images. Gwaltney entered his guilty pleas under an open-ended plea agreement, which means the state did not offer a specific jail sentence as part of the agreement. Instead, the court will decide what the sentence will be on each conviction and whether those sentences will run concurrently or consecutively.

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Under state law, aggravated rape of a child is a Class A felony and Gwaltney faced a prison term of 15-60 years for each of those convictions.

Judge Lisa Rice sentenced him to 45 years in prison on each of the aggravated rape of a child convictions and ordered that he serve those sentences consecutively. Under state law, Gwaltney is not eligible for any form of alternative sentencing and will have to serve 100 percent of those sentences due to his classification as a “child rapist” under sentencing statutes.

Rice sentenced Gwaltney to serve 10 years each on the single count of aggravated sexual battery as well as each of the five counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, all of which are Class B felonies under state law. As with the rape of a child conviction, these convictions are not eligible for alternative sentencing, and Gwaltney must serve 100 percent of those sentences. Rice ordered that the 10-year sentences run concurrently with his first 45-year sentence on the first county of aggravated rape of a child.

On the count of solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class C felony, Rice sentenced Gwaltney to 3 years in prison, with that sentenced to be served consecutively to the two 45-year sentences. That conviction is eligible for alternative sentencing, but Rice denied probation and ordered Gwaltney to serve the sentence.

All of the convictions resulted in an effective 93-year prison term for Gwaltney.

The charges against Gwaltney stem from an investigation by the Carter County Sheriff’s Office into allegations that Gwaltney sexually abused an 8-month-old infant.

As part of the court proceedings when Gwaltney entered his guilty pleas, Assistant District Attorney Matt Roark described the facts of the case for the court.

In the later part of 2015, Roark said Gwaltney was allowing a family to stay with him while they worked on their home to get it ready to move in. It was during that time that Gwaltney abused the infant, according to Roark.

The family’s teenage daughter borrowed Gwaltney’s iPod and found images of Gwaltney sexually abusing her 8-month-old brother, Roark said.