Indianapolis Councilor Jeff Miller has admitted touching two children "in a rude manner" as part of a plea deal that triggers his resignation from the City-County Council.
Miller, 51, pleaded guilty Wednesday to four felony counts of battery on a person less than 14 years old, ending a case that began in November when Marion County prosecutors charged him with three counts of child molestation.
Hamilton County Prosecutor D. Lee Buckingham II, who took over the case in January as
special prosecutor, reached a deal with Miller's attorneys that downgraded the charges while still resulting in felony convictions.
Former Indianapolis Councilor Jeff Miller
Miller was sentenced to four years of probation, with some conditions. Hendricks Superior Court Judge Mark A. Smith ordered Miller not to interact with children under 16 without permission from the court. Miller will not serve jail time and does not have to register as a sex offender, according to the terms of his plea agreement. The convictions could be reduced to misdemeanors once Miller completes probation.Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I'm no fan of Jeff Miller. He is the worst type of Republican, someone who takes the GOP label but does not exhibit any fiscal conservative leanings whatsoever. Miller was always the first to sign on to any tax increase and corporate welfare scheme proposed by the Ballard administration. He was not a friend of taxpayers, not even close.
Having said that, there should be questions raised as to whether Democrat Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry was pursuing political objectives in filing child molestation charges against Miller. The Miller charging information contained needless salacious information, such as his limited and awkward sexual history with women. Then there are the original charges of child molestation. There did not seem to be any evidence that Miller massaged the children to gratify his own sexual interests or that of the child. That is a necessary element of the crimes with which Miller was charged.
The whole thing smacked of throwing everything at Miller in an attempt to force him to resign. Republican Miller has managed to attract a lot of Democratic support in his inner city district. With him off the ballot the Democrats will surely pick up the seat in the next election.
Miller though was extremely smart not to resign initially. Resignation from a political office is something often included in a plea and there is no reason for a public official to give away that bargaining chip without getting anything in return. The risk was enormous for Miller to go to trial, so he opted, wisely, for a deal. Simple battery (i.e. unwanted touching), albeit on someone considered to be a child, is a low level felony that can be easily converted to a misdemeanor down the road. He does not have to serve any jail time. He does not have to register as a sex offender, because he wasn't convicted of a sexual offense.
This is yet another issue that makes me question the ethics of Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry. Too many Democrats give him a pass. Whether it is the Omnisource payoff to drop a felony prosecution, Curry's tremendous expansion of the use of civil forfeiture, or the phony charges filed against Brandon Johnson, Prosecutor Curry's continues to exhibit troubling conduct in carrying out his official duties. A county prosecutor in Indiana has tremendous power. It is important that he or she not abuse that power. Curry appears to be doing exactly that.