Two Newton residents have been charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse of runaway minors.
Zachary Morecock, 21, of Newton, was charged with 15 counts of third-degree sexual abuse in a Newton Police Department investigation that culminated Aug. 15. Ariel Utterback, 22, of Newton, also faces 10 counts of third-degree sexual abuse in the case.
Morecock is currently being held at the Jasper County Jail on a $140,000 bond. Utterback is also detained at the Jasper County Jail on a $100,000 bond. Arraignments for both subjects took place Monday morning, and their next court dates have not yet been determined.
According to court records, five of the counts took place on separate occasions — Aug. 15, April 1 and June 1 of 2017. Utterback has no charges from the Aug. 15 incident.
Morecock and Utterback were each charged with 10 counts of third-degree sexual abuse for one juvenile victim under age 16, said a Newton Police Department official in an email. Morecock was also charged with an additional four counts of third-degree sexual abuse for a runaway juvenile victim under the age of 16. Morecock was charged with one additional count of third-degree sexual abuse for a third juvenile victim under the age of 16, who was also a runaway.
According to Newton Police Department reports, officers started an investigation of sexual abuse allegations against Morecock. Interviews led to Morecock allegedly admitting to committing sexual acts with an underage victim at least three times while Utterback watched and participated. The incidents took place five times at Meadowbrook Apartments in Newton, and five times at Courtyard Apartments in Newton.
Newton Police Lt. Bill Henninger said investigators are not yet sure how the underage victims were determined to be runaways, but sexual abuse cases like this are fairly uncommon.
“Reported runaways are a common thing in Newton,” Henninger said. “Sometimes, it’s some kid who left home for a few hours because they didn’t want to be home, and there are times where they come from a different city. More commonly, it’s from someone who’s in town.”
Contact Orrin Shawl at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or firstname.lastname@example.org