PRINCETON — A woman who pleaded guilty last year to first-degree sexual assault, sexual abuse and incest involving videos of a child subjected to sexual acts learned Wednesday that she will be 88 years old before she’s eligible for parole.
Elizabeth Haway, 43, of Princeton was brought before Mercer County Circuit Court Judge William Sadler for sentencing. Haway pleaded guilty in December 2019 to 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.
The case started on April 2, 2018 when Detective-Sergeant 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 stated that 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 said in the report. “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).”
Sadler said as he sentenced Haway that “lifelong damage has been inflicted on this child.”
“This child has lost innocence that can never be restored on replaced,” Sadler stated. “I’ve been involved in the criminal justice system for over 30 years. From that standpoint, this is one of the most vile and horrific cases I have ever experienced in the criminal justice system.”
Haway had a sex offender evaluation before Wednesday’s sentencing hearing. Sadler reviewed the resulting report and said the one of its most revealing aspects was the examiner’s conclusion that the offenses involved detailed planning and were not done on impulse.
“These acts were set up and planned,” Sadler said. “That’s a frightening conclusion. Frightening.”
The report stated that Haway was abused when she was a child and had a history of psychiatric treatment. She also has a criminal history including embezzlement, distribution of cocaine and possessing contraband in prison, Sadler said. Haway is facing child pornography charges in federal court since the video was shared with another individual.
Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler described the crimes as “heinous and disturbing.”
“On behalf of the victim, I would ask that the maximum sentence be imposed,” he said.
Haway was sentenced to a term of 25 to 100 years on both counts of first-degree sexual assault, which will run currently. She received another five to 25 years on both counts of first-degree sexual abuse, which will run concurrently. Sadler also sentenced her to serve 10 to 20 years in prison for two counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian. Those sentences will run concurrently. She will also serve five to 15 years on each of the two incest charges, which will run concurrently.
Sitler estimated that this gave Haway a sentence of 45 to 155 years in prison. She will be about 88 years old when she is eligible for parole.
Sadler informed Haway that if she is ever released from prison, she will be required to register with the West Virginia State Police as a sex offender and serve 20 years of supervision.
Attorney Paul Cassell, special prosecutor for crimes against children, also represented the state at Wednesday’s hearing.
— Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org