Santa Claus Man Sentenced Following Guilty Plea in Child Abuse Case

Gage Nelson Sentenced to 16 Years with 10 Years Executed on Oct. 20

October 20, 2017 ROCKPORT, IN–  Gage L. Nelson, 20 of Santa Claus, was sentenced on Friday, October 20 in the Spencer Circuit Court for two counts of Child Molesting as Level 3 felonies and one count of Child Solicitation as a Level 5 felony.  Spencer Circuit Court Judge Jon Dartt handed down the sentence after accepting the terms of a plea agreement entered into by Nelson with the Spencer County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Santa Claus Police Department and Spencer County Department of Child Services began an investigation in December 2015 after receiving information that Nelson, who was 18 years old at the time, had inappropriate sexual contact with an 11 year-old girl.  During the course of the investigation, Santa Claus Marshals Matt Keller and James Faulkenburg discovered that Nelson had also had an inappropriate relationship with another 13 year-old female and had solicited another 13 year-old female for sex.  Spencer County Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Wilkinson, filed for an arrest warrant for Nelson on May 13, 2016 and Nelson was arrested and transported to the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center that same day.  Nelson has been held at the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center on $20,000 cash bond since that time.

Nelson entered into a plea agreement regarding the charges on September 1 and entered guilty pleas to two Counts of Child Molesting as Level 3 felonies and to one Count of Child Solicitation as a Level 5 felony.  Pursuant to the agreement accepted by the Court, Nelson was sentenced to 16 years to the Indiana Department of Correction with 10 years of the sentence to be executed and 6 years to be suspended.  Upon release from the Department of Correction, Nelson will be required to register as a sex offender for life and will be subject to very strict special probation conditions for adult sex offenders.

Following the sentencing on October 20, Spencer County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Wilkinson said, “This is an example of our local protocol and multi-disciplinary team for child abuse investigations working as designed.  A report was made to the Department of Child Services, our multi-disciplinary team met and conducted a forensic interview at our designated interview location, law enforcement performed follow-up investigation and an arrest warrant was ultimately issued.  Thanks to the following of the protocol as well as the strength and perseverance of the victims who cooperated in the prosecution, the Defendant in this case will spend years in jail and prison followed by intensive supervision and registration requirements after his release.”  

The public is encouraged to report suspected child abuse or neglect by calling the Indiana Department of Child Services at (800) 800-5556 or local law enforcement. Anyone with information regarding criminal activity of any kind may leave a tip anonymously through the Spencer County Crime Tip Line at (800) 615-6088 or online at http://spencoprosecutor.org/crime-tip-line/.