BUCYRUS - A woman convicted of taking photos while a man sexually abused a 13-year-old girl was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison.
The images were so grotesque that Crawford County Common Pleas Judge Sean Leuthold had to put them down and close his eyes during the hearing.
"Could you get me some water, please?" he asked courtroom staff as he regained his composure.
Bethany Thompson, 33, of Bucyrus, entered a plea of guilty Monday to nine felony charges, including one count of second-degree felony endangering children, two counts of second-degree felony pandering sexually oriented materials involving a minor and six counts of third-degree felony sexual battery.
Thompson told Bucyrus police about the crimes against the 13-year-old girl on June 28, according to Crawford County Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Hoovler.
Hoovler said officers quickly arrested Justin D. Millhouse II, 33, also of Bucyrus, who was Thompson's live-in boyfriend at the time of the incident.
Millhouse faces up to 174 years in prison after being charged with 24 crimes. He is expected to enter a plea next week.
When investigators recovered the images, they realized it took more than one person to commit the crimes. Their investigation led them back to Thompson.
"She was involved in every one of those photographs," Hoovler told Leuthold. "She failed to protect a 13-year-old girl."
Hoovler went on to say that the victim appeared to be unconscious in every photograph that detectives recovered. Leuthold described one as "extremely revolting."
Most of the descriptions Leuthold provided were of Millhouse performing forced sex acts of various types on the girl. Thompson admitted to taking the photographs.
Thompson told Luethold that she thinks Millhouse abused the girl many times and that she only took part in the acts of violence on one occasion. She told the judge that she decided to turn her boyfriend in to authorities when she started fearing for the well-being of her own two children, ages 13 and 15 at the time.
"I'm just happy that I got her away from the situation," Thompson said.
Leuthold asked her why she let four months pass from the night of the crime before she did anything about the abuse and why she didn't move her children away from the home she shared with Millhouse immediately.
"We had to make sure he was going to be arrested before we could leave," Thompson said.
Her attorney started to reiterate that Thompson only took part in the crimes during one evening, but Leuthold stopped him.
"You know what? I'm done. I'm done," Leuthold said. "What I find before me today is so disturbing and so revolting that it's almost beyond comprehension."
Leuthold said Thompson had a duty to protect the girl. She did just the opposite of that.
"From the defendant I've seen no remorse, only excuses and refusal to take responsibility," Leuthold said. "I will note that."
Thompson will be 48 when she's released from prison, and will be subject to five years of community control upon release. If she fails to complete that probation period, she could be sent to prison for an additional 7½ years.
As a tier-three sex offender, Thompson is required to meet with a probation officer once every 90 days for the rest of her life. She must notify her county sheriff every time she moves, finds a new job, takes a vacation, purchases a different vehicle, changes telephone numbers and creates a new email account. Thompson is also barred from owning a firearm again for life.
Leuthold told the defendant that had she not reported the crimes and detectives found them on their own, her sentence Monday would have been at least doubled.
"It's hard for me to comprehend what this victim went through," Leuthold said.