Dunlap man gets 20 years in child sexual battery plea

Dunlap man gets 20 years in child sexual battery plea

June 29th, 2018 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

A 23-year-old Dunlap, Tennessee, man was sentenced to 20 years in a child rape case involving a victim younger than 13 years old.

Dakota Austin Waldrop pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery, a class B felony, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Waldrop must serve 85 percent of the sentence — 17 years — before he can become eligible for parole, 12th Judicial District Assistant District Attorney Steve Strain said Thursday. Other counts of child rape and aggravated sexual battery were dismissed in the plea arrangement. Waldrop he was given credit for having already spent nearly a year in jail on the arrest.

"That doesn't mean they'll parole him at 85 percent [of the sentence], but he has to do at least that much as a minimum sentence," Strain said.

When released, Waldrop will be under community supervision, Strain said.

"He will be subject to supervision by the Department of Correction for the rest of his life," he said.

Dunlap police Chief Clint Huth said when the investigation began that Waldrop was an acquaintance of the victim's family.

Huth said the abuse happened in November 2016 but only came to light a couple of weeks before charges were brought against Waldrop in July 2017.

"When we first got wind of this, one of the first things we did was take the victim to the Child Advocacy Center in Chattanooga and we did a forensic interview with the victim," Huth said. "The day that we arrested [Waldrop], we interviewed him."

The chief said there "were a lot of similarities" between the victim's and suspect's statements. Investigators didn't believe there was more than one victim.

Waldrop had been in trouble with the law before.

"We have arrested him six times since he's turned 18," Huth said in 2017 of Waldrop's previous charges that included domestic assault, disorderly conduct, shoplifting, criminal trespassing and criminal impersonation. The chief said some of those prior cases had not been disposed of in court.

Sequatchie County Circuit Court records show Waldrop was sentenced as a multiple offender and was ordered to have no contact with the victim. He must also provide a specimen for DNA analysis, court records state.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.