Jury convicts 70-year-old of sexual battery on a child, other charges

Assistant State Attorney Barbara Beasley, standing, ASA Jae Hee Kim, seated, and Bay County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Christian Williams, in the witness stand, listen as Judge Ana Maria Garcia instructs jurors on a taped interview.
















A 70-year-old man was found guilty of Sexual Battery on a Child Under the Age of 12 and two other charges by a Bay County jury Friday and faces life in prison at his Dec. 7 sentencing, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

A jury found Kenneth Ray Hunley guilty as charged on the sexual battery, a capital offense, and two counts of Lewd and Lascivious Molestation after the case was presented by prosecutors Barbara Beasley and Jae Hee Kim. Circuit Judge Ana Maria Garcia set sentencing for Dec. 7.

Judge Ana Maria Garcia, left, holds a sidebar conference with the defense and prosecutors Barbara Beasley, black jacket, right, and Jae Hee Kim, while a bailiff observes.

It is the second time this week Beasley has handled a capital sexual battery offense that resulted in a guilty verdict. Tuesday, Ashden Pippins, 25, was found guilty of sexual battery on a child under the age of 12 and sentenced to life in prison by Judge Garcia.

Beasley and Kim presented evidence to jurors that the victim was between 6 and 8 years old at the time of the abuse.

Beasley and the victim, who was the state’s first witness, told jurors the offenses began with molestation and escalated to intercourse. The victim testified she was too frightened to say anything because the defendant warned her not to, saying no one would believe her.

When contact between the defendant and the victim ended, Beasley said, the girl was still too frightened to say anything and in a 2017 interview at the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center she said nothing had happened.

“She doesn’t tell, and she tells you she doesn’t tell because the defendant told her, ‘Nobody is going to believe you,’ ” Beasley said. “She keeps that secret buried deep down inside.”

Defendant Kenneth Hunley, right, was found guilty on all charges Friday.

“But in 2018 it becomes too much for her,” Beasley added. “This time she’s ready to tell. It’s not an easy thing to talk about.”

On that day she finally told what had happened, Beasley said. That led to a forensics interview at GCCAC in which she disclosed the abuse.

Bay County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Christian Williams then interviewed the defendant, who told a story that did not hold up under questioning and made incriminating and contradictory statements.
















Beasley told jurors that as the defendant realized Williams was not believing his version of events, he reversed direction and denied ever touching the victim. Hunley did not testify.

To end her closing arguments, Beasley replayed the audio of that interview for jurors and then rested her case.

For additional information contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov.