CANTON — A Cherokee County jury has convicted a 50-year-old Canton man of aggravated assault, battery-family violence, child molestation, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and hindering an emergency telephone call
John Richard Hartsfield was found guilty of all charges after two hours of deliberation Jan. 30.
Prosecutors say on May 20, 2018, Hartsfield kicked, punched, and strangled his girlfriend, causing multiple bruises and lacerations. During the assault, prosecutors say he smashed her cell phone to prevent her from calling 911.
While the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office was investigating this case, a family member disclosed that Hartsfield had also molested a child. The accusations included indecent contact with the child as well as providing her with alcohol.
“From the outside, this seemed to be a loving and happy home but, in reality, it was anything but,” said Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Holly Varner. “Supposed loved ones of John Hartsfield were tormented by his evil, lustful, and violent tendencies to the point where they feared for their lives.”
During Hartsfield’s sentencing hearing, Feb. 5 the court heard impact statements from the child victim as well as two other family members.
According to the District Attorney’s office, the child described a lifetime of experiences that left her suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She said she is afraid of marriage, friendship, trusting, having children, and even love, adding that Hartsfield’s definition of love was “perverted and wrong.”
Senior Judge Frank C. Mills III sentenced the defendant to 40 years, with the first 20 years to be served in prison.
Upon release, Hartsfield will serve the remainder of his sentence on probation with sex offender special conditions including no contact of any kind with minors under the age of 18. He is also prohibited from contact with the victims or any member of their family.
“This terrifying incident left a victimized woman fearing for her life. With the intervention of law enforcement, she received the help she needed to end a cycle of domestic violence,” said Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace. “We are thankful that the same law enforcement involvement also brought an end to the terror for this child. This sentence protects both victims by removing Hartsfield from their lives, and from society, for a lengthy period.”