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Local

Newton resident pleads to fewer counts in sex abuse case

Morecock, Utterback
Morecock, Utterback

A suspect involved in multiple counts of sex abuse will have the remainder of her charges dismissed.

District Court Judge Terry Rickers has dropped eight of 22-year-old Newton resident Ariel Utterback’s 10 counts of third-degree sexual abuse Monday as part of a plea bargaining agreement. According to court documents, Utterback pleaded guilty to the other two counts.

“In the interest of justice for plea bargaining, the defendant (has) entered a plea of guilty in counts one and two,” court documents said. “The court finds good cause exists to dismiss.”

The other suspect in the case, Zachary Morecock, a 21-year-old Newton resident, initially pleaded not guilty to all 15 counts of third-degree sexual abuse but later pleaded guilty to three of the counts in a similar agreement, court records indicate.

As a result, Morecock was sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison for those three counts. Morecock also has $1,000 in fines and restitution to pay, is on the sex offender registry and was required to submit a DNA sample. Sentencing for the remainder of the counts will continue to be dealt with at 9 a.m. Feb. 25.

No new information was available at this time regarding Dakota Utterback, 20, of Newton. Dakota Utterback was arrested and charged with third-degree sexual abuse for his alleged actions on Aug. 16.

According to a Newton police report, officers were investigating Morecock’s alleged sexual assault of three transient teen victims.

“During an interview with the defendant, he admitted to having vaginal intercourse with the victim on one occasion between Aug. 16 to Aug. 25, but claimed he thought she was 18,” the police report said. “He later admitted that he really had no idea how old she was.”

Morecock, 21, was charged with 15 counts of third-degree sexual abuse in a Newton Police Department investigation that culminated Aug. 15. Ariel Utterback, 22, also faces 10 counts of third-degree sexual abuse in the case.

Morecock recently pleaded guilty to three of the sexual abuse counts earlier in October, according to court records. Five of the counts took place on separate occasions — April 1 and June 1, Aug. 15, 2017. Ariel Utterback has no charges from the Aug. 15 incident.

Contact Orrin Shawl at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or oshawl@newtondailynews.com

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