Joshua Volkert, 37, of Claypool was convicted of four counts of Child Molesting following a two-day jury trial on September 25-26, 2022. The jury then convicted Volkert of being a Habitual Offender.   Volkert was sentenced on November 10, 2022, after the jury’s verdicts in Marshall Superior Court 1 by Judge Robert Bowen.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tami Napier prosecuted the case for the State of Indiana with Deputy Prosecutor Nick Langowski.  Public Defender Chris Berdahl represented Volkert.  Volkert was found guilty of molesting the victim over a six-year period of time that began when she was six years old.

The crimes were disclosed in 2020 and the victim’s mother immediately reported it to law enforcement.  Marshall County Sheriff’s Department Detective Jonathan Bryant led the investigation.  The family was living in Plymouth when Volkert committed the sex offenses that lead to the charges.  During an interview by Det. Jonathan Bryant, Volkert denied the allegations but voluntarily agreed to submit to a polygraph examination by Indiana State Police.  Sgt. Matt Collins of the Indiana State Police conducted the polygraph examination and Volkert was determined to be deceptive to questions relating to child molesting.

When arguing for an appropriate sentence, Napier asked for an aggravated sentence in this case stating that “Volkert exploited his access to the victim, showed no remorse, and has an extensive criminal history.”  Berdahl argued that Volkert is appealing his convictions and is maintaining his denial of the crimes.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Bowen found Volkert’s position of trust to be a weighty aggravating factor as well as the fact that she is a protected person under Indiana law.  Bowen further found as aggravating that Volkert has an extensive criminal history and had multiple conduct violations while in the Marshall County Jail.  Bowen found no mitigating circumstances that would benefit Volkert.  Bowen then imposed a sentence of 35 years executed in the Indiana Department of Correction on each of Counts 1 and 3 which will be served consecutively or back-to-back. As for Counts 2 and 4, Volkert received 6 years executed in the Indiana Department of Correction to run concurrently (or at the same time) as Counts 1 and 3.  Volkert received an additional 6 years on the Habitual Offender count which will be served consecutively to Counts 1 and 3.  Volkert received a total sentence of 76 years.  Volkert is also now a lifetime registered sex offender.

Napier was pleased by Judge Bowen’s decision saying that “The sexual exploitation of children in Marshall County is a top priority crime.  A child’s vulnerability to predators is recognized by our laws and offenders like Volkert should expect the full extent of that protection, particularly when an offender preys on a family member like the facts in this case.”

Deputy Prosecutor Nick Langowski said, “Accountability for child victims is the most serious responsibility we take on as prosecutors for Marshall County.  I am pleased that the jury held Volkert accountable.”

Prosecutor Nelson Chipman affirmed that prosecuting child victim cases “remains a priority case” in his administration and that he was “pleased with the effort Napier and Langowski put into getting justice for the victim.”

Napier added “Volkert’s sexual predation on his stepdaughter lasted over a six-year period of time.  He abused the trust placed in him in the most despicable manner.  Getting justice for child victims is a fundamental aspect of a prosecutor’s job and the victim got justice in this case.  The jury vindicated her for her bravery in disclosing what happened.  The jury unanimously found Volkert guilty as charged, and I am grateful for their service”