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John to appear in court after guilty plea

Megan Doyle | Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A former Notre Dame student will appear in court March 18 after he allegedly molested a 12-year-old South Bend girl he met on MySpace.

Ackley F. John, who was a senior at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty in November to two counts of child molestation, both class B felonies. According to court documents, he was arrested April 4 after he allegedly engaged in a sex act with the girl after meeting her online.

University spokesman Dennis Brown said John’s enrollment at Notre Dame ceased April 6, two days after he was arrested by local law enforcement.

Court documents from the St. Joseph County Courthouse reported that at approximately 3:30 a.m. April 4, the girl’s parents called Mishawaka Police to report their daughter as a runaway. A Mishawaka officer responded to the call and asked about the girl at a 7-11 convenience store near her home. The store’s clerk said a young girl had been in the store about 30 to 40 minutes earlier and asked to use the phone to call her father.

The clerk allowed the girl to use the phone, and she then left the store shortly after and got into a gray car parked near the building.

The officer called the phone number given to him by the clerk and reached an answering machine stating, “This is AJ, and leave me a message.”

The officer left a message, and a man returned his call approximately 40 minutes later. The man denied knowing the girl. He said his name was Ackley John and he was a student at Notre Dame.

At approximately 5 a.m., the Mishawaka officer received a call stating Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) located the girl on campus. The Mishawaka officer and an officer from NDSP contacted the girl’s parents and questioned John.

When questioned by police, John said he met the girl on MySpace, where she was listed under a different name. He said her MySpace profile stated she was 15 years old, but she told him she was 14 years old. John told police he communicated with the girl online for several months, and they spent time together on three occasions. John said she performed oral sex on him on two occasions, including April 4 in a Grape Road parking lot.

John said he planned to drive the girl home that morning but saw her father’s car and drove to Notre Dame. When they got to campus, they started arguing, and John told her to go talk to an NDSP officer in the area, according to court documents.

The girl was questioned by police and confirmed she met John on MySpace. She admitted she called John to pick her up around 2:30 a.m. from the convenience store. She told police she performed oral sex on John that night, and she confirmed that they were driving to her house when they saw her father’s car and drove to Notre Dame instead.

The Observer will not name the girl because she is a minor and the victim of a crime.

Court documents show John, 22, was arrested on campus April 4 and taken to the St. Joseph County Jail. He posted a $3,000 bond two days later and was released April 6.

According to Indiana state law, any sexual intercourse or deviant sexual conduct with a child under 14 years old is considered child molestation. The charges against John, both class B felonies, are punished with a prison sentence between six and 20 years, with an advisory sentence of 10 years.

Brown said the University does everything possible to help law enforcement.

“When the University is made aware of off-campus incidents involving possible violations of the law, we provide any assistance requested by local law enforcement agencies and are confident that these agencies will ensure that justice is done under the law,” he said.