|William Wallace III|
By Mark Wilson
PRINCETON - Attorney and former candidate for Gibson County prosecutor William Wallace III was sentenced Tuesday on felony charges of obstructing justice and possessing child pornography.
Indiana law does not require Wallace register as sex offender, special prosecutor Jonathan Parkhurst said.
Wallace pleaded guilty to the charges last month. Parkhurst agreed to drop misdemeanor charges of patronizing a prostitute and false informing, and to convert the felony convictions to misdemeanors if he successfully finishes his sentence.
Gibson Superior Court Judge Earl Penrod accepted the plea agreement Tuesday despite some reluctance about converting the charges to misdemeanors.
He sentenced Wallace to 18 months on each count, to be served at the same time. The sentence includes 90 days of electronic home detention with GPS monitoring, and the rest to be served on probation. Wallace could have received up to three years in prison. He will also do 50 hours of community service, pay a $250 fine and seek evaluation and treatment for sexual or Internet pornography addiction. Probation officials will monitor his Internet use, which is restricted to work purposes, including computers and mobile devices.
Penrod agreed to allow Wallace to leave Princeton to travel to church on Sunday and attend his church praise band practices on Saturdays after he completes the home detention portion of his sentence.
He chastised Wallace on Friday, noting that the obstruction of justice charge was especially troubling given Wallace's position as an attorney. Had the agreement called for jail time, Penrod said, he would have readily accepted it.
"In effect, it victimizes all of us. It just occurs to me how incredibly unfortunate this is, to have someone breach that trust," he said. "Anyone looking at this would say this is just unsatisfactory."
However, he noted that law is not based on public perception and that the sentence must balance with Wallace's constitutional rights.
- Well, if you are a well known lawyer, police, politician, then they say this, but if you are the average citizen, they throw the book at you.
"The system works, because no one is above the law," Penrod said.
A fifth charge, voyeurism, a class D felony, is pending. It is the charge most closely associated with the circumstances that began the investigation in March 2010. The Indiana Court of Appeals has agreed to review whether the investigation's facts support the charge and Wallace agreed to plead guilty if the court rules in favor of the prosecutor.
Wallace, 58, was indicted in June 2010 shortly after a former client of Wallace claimed the attorney videotaped sexual encounters she had with him without her knowledge. She said he suggested that he would forgive legal fees she owed him in exchange for sex. The woman reported that she only learned about the recordings after Wallace allegedly showed them to her boyfriend.
During an April 19, 2010, search of Wallace's house in Princeton, he tried to flee from the house to his garage with various DVDs and an external computer hard drive in his pants. A search of Wallace's computers uncovered child pornography. Police also found recordings of Wallace and the woman having sex.
Wallace's attorney, Scott Danks, said in court Tuesday that police found a single image of an underage female engaged in a sexual act and that there was no evidence Wallace knew it was on his computer or had viewed it.
He also said he believed Wallace's obstruction of justice was a panicked response to the sudden search of his home.
"I firmly believe this is a knee jerk reaction by Mr. Wallace. This isn't a situation where Mr. Wallace had hours or days or weeks or months to scheme to try to hide evidence."
Speaking in court Friday, the victim in the voyeurism charge, questioned why Wallace would be allowed to have the convictions converted to misdemeanors and not have to register as sex offender.
"It seems as thought he is not really being punished," she said. "Wallace has shown no remorse for things he has done and has made no apology."
Parkhurst and Danks noted that the agreement was not unusual for a first time felon.
"Thus far he always has been a productive member of the community. He has absolutely no criminal history whatsoever," Danks said.
Parkhurst said the Indiana Supreme Court's Disciplinary Commission has been notified of the charges and will be informed of the convictions and sentence. It will determine what affect the convictions will have on his license to practice law in the state.