Convicted statutory rapist gets new hearing

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A Clarksville man convicted for the aggravated statutory rape of a 14-year old Murfreesboro area child in 2013 has won the first step in a recent appeal released on Wednesday by the Court of Criminal Appeals. William G. Barnett, Jr. will now have the chance for a new hearing to determine what actions should be taken next.

In October of 2011, Barnett made plans to meet a 14-year old girl at a Nashville water park. The Murfreesboro area child was at the water park with her parents when Barnett met with her. The teen’s parents saw the two talking and immediately told Barnett not to speak to their daughter. The two later texted one another and Barnett reportedly sent the teen pictures of himself.

Soon after the incident at the water park and without the parents’ knowledge, Barnett made plans to meet with the 14-year old before school. The young lady, who suffered from a form of autism, rode the Rutherford County School bus to school, but failed to go in and instead got into Barnett’s truck. Barnett, who was over 35 years of age at the time, reportedly took her to a wooded area in Rutherford County where the reported aggravated statutory rape occurred multiple times.

Barnett was soon investigated by the authorities and in 2012 was indicted. In 2013, the petitioner pled guilty to four counts of aggravated statutory rape and one count of attempted solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor. Barnett was sentenced to serve three years in the Department of Corrections, followed by three years of probation.

Barnett suggests that he may have been sentenced to what amounts to an illegal sentence. If the prisoner, who is currently jailed at the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center, argues successfully that the incarceration is in violation of a constitutional right or is illegal, the court could order the prisoner's release.

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