Elizabeth Haway

Elizabeth Haway said the words ‘I’m guilty’ seven times during her time in Judge Sadler’s court on Monday in Princeton.

PRINCETON — “I’m guilty.”

Elizabeth Haway, 42, of Princeton said those words seven times as Mercer County Circuit Court Judge William Sadler asked her if she were guilty of each count of sex abuse charges involving a child.

Sadler also asked Haway if she understands that she may be sentenced to life in prison, and she tearfully said she did.

In a plea agreement, Haway admitted she is guilty of two counts first-degree sexual assault, two counts first-degree sexual abuse, two counts sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person of trust, and incest.

A misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals was dismissed as part of the plea agreement as well as the state agreeing to not use any prior convictions to enhance sentencing.

Penalties for the charges range from 25 to 100 years in prison to five to 10 years, leaving a maximum possible sentence of about 300 years.

Assistant Prosecutor Paul Cassell reviewed some details of the case, including the discovery of a video depicting sexual assault of a child and sexual abuse of a child.

After he finished, Haway agreed that it happened.

Defense attorney Joe Harvey told Sadler there was no advantage to proceed to trial, which had been scheduled to begin Jan. 21, 2020.

Harvey requested a pre-sentence investigation as well as a sex offender evaluation, both of which Sadler granted.

Sentencing was then set for Feb. 28.

The case began on April 2 when Detective-Sgt. Steve Sommers, with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, responded to a cyber tip that was received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children involving the distribution of child pornography through Facebook Messenger.

In a criminal complaint, Sommers said he reviewed the video file and it showed an adult male engaging in a sexual act with a prepubescent female child.

Sommers also found graphic messages between Haway and another Facebook user, according to the complaint. He then obtained and served a search warrant on Facebook, compelling them to disclose Facebook records for Haway.

“As I searched her Facebook records further, I found two video files that were approximately 3 minutes and 21 seconds (each) in length that had been sent to another Facebook user,” Sommers stated in the complaint. After viewing the video file that included audio, he saw that it showed an adult female with the prepubescent female engaging in sexual acts.

“I estimated the age of the child to be between 5 and 6 years of age,” Sommers stated. “I also observed that the bathtub had distinct cracking of the molding at the wall and bathtub and that the adult female had a tattoo on her finger of a smiley face (two dots and a line).”

Sommers said he also found a third video “involving the adult male and same child,” which also showed a distinctive red and white shower curtain.

The video “depicted an at-risk child victim,” Sommers stated in the complaint.

A search warrant was then executed for Haway’s residence, and she was located there and taken into custody.

While at the residence, Sommers located the red and white shower curtain, and an inspection of the bathroom revealed “similar characteristics” to what was shown in the video, the complaint stated.

Haway was arrested and transported to the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department.

“During processing, I observed that the accused had tattoos on a finger on the left and right hand of a smiley face (two dots and a line),” Sommers stated.

Haway has remained incarcerated at Southern Regional Jail on a $100,000 cash bond as well as a $200,000 surety/cash bond.

 — Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

Trending Video

Recommended for you