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Hand pleads guilty

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

Jennifer Hand pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that she helped her boyfriend, Nicholas Thrash, molest her daughter, leading to her daughter becoming pregnant at age 10.

Hand, 33, was charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury, a Level 5 felony, neglect of a dependent, a Level 6 felony, aiding child molesting, a Level 1 felony, and assisting a criminal, a Level 5 felony, for the part she played in Thrash's molesting, which according to investigators took place over several years.

Thrash was sentenced last Thursday to 160 years on 10 counts of child molesting. 

Hand admitted during Tuesday's hearing that her daughter told her Thrash was molesting her, yet continued to let Thrash live with them. Hand did not report the molesting or the fact that her daughter was pregnant to authorities.

Despite an active criminal investigation in Georgia into possible molesting, and despite signing off on a “safety plan” to prevent Thrash from having contact with her daughter, Hand moved to Indiana with Thrash and continued to live with him.

Finally, Hand also admitted to having lied about Thrash's whereabouts to both Georgia police and local law enforcement.

In her plea agreement, Hand agreed to accept a total sentence of 25 years incarceration with 20 years executed and the remaining five to be served on supervised probation.

Hand agreed to have no contact with her now 12-year-old daughter, the victim, until the victim's counselor “deems it appropriate.”

Hand also agreed to pay court costs as well as a sexual assault victims fee and a child abuse prevention fee.

Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Glancy said she was glad for the sake of the victim that Hand pleaded guilty instead of taking it to trial.

“We were certainly ready to go to trial in a few weeks, but the emotional and psychological toll would have been significantly more (for this trial) than the Thrash trial,” Glancy said.

Glancy said it likely would have been hard for the victim to testify against her mother.

In Glancy's 26 years of prosecuting, she said Hand's case was the first time she had ever filed the charge of aiding in child molesting.

“When you aid someone, you're helping them in some way. Child molesting is usually behind closed doors … under secrecy. Just suspecting it is not enough for the charge, you have to have facts to prove that they were helping,” Glancy said.

She said this case fit those requirements because of what she called Hand's “egregious disregard” for her child.

The victim is currently in foster care and the boy she gave birth to in 2017 was given up for adoption.

“She's doing better. That's all that we can hope for right now. She's at a really good place, and she's doing better,” Glancy said.