Parkview custodian on paid leave, accused of sex abuse against adopted daughters

Date: 2009-03-25

By TARA HETTINGER

Charles Sparks, of Jeffersonville, is on unpaid leave from his job as a custodian at Parkview Middle School after being accused of 58 counts of child sex abuse involving his three adopted daughters.

The 60-year-old has worked for Greater Clark County Schools since 1988. He was a bus driver for most of his career before switching over to custodian in 2005, according to Superintendent Tony Bennett.

Bennett said all prospective employees undergo a criminal background check, but since Sparks had never been convicted of a crime, nothing showed up.

“He had no criminal history and was never arrested,” Bennett said.

“So, this is not a glitch in the system.”

Sparks worked second-shift at Parkview. That means he was around students for about an hour and a half before the school day ended.

“The question will always come up, ‘Were any kids in danger?’” Bennett said. “We have no indication of that.”

However, Shelley Marble, deputy prosecuting attorney, said it’s hard to know if there are more victims.

“In this case, you never know,” she said. “If they had access to kids, it’s always a concern.”

The abuse allegedly started 12 years ago and involved sexual intercourse, oral sex and molesting.

The girls, who are now ages 22, 20 and 17, had been taken out of their home when they were young after allegations that their natural father was molesting them.

The girls say it was less than a year after being adopted by Charles and Linda Sparks that he started abusing them.

“The fact that they were taken away from their home because of molesting allegations and then this happens,” Jeffersonville Police Department Detective Charles Thompson said, pausing as shook his head. “That just makes this case that much worse.”

One of the victims told investigators that she recorded Sparks admitting to the crimes, but he found the tape and destroyed it. Later, in 2001, the girls also came forward, but the case was dismissed in Clark Superior Court.

“I believe these girls are very strong to step forward again after not being believed the first time,” Marble said.

This time, the first to come forward was given a polygraph. The results showed she was telling the truth.

After that, investigators questioned the other two girls, both saying the same things happened to them. So, Thompson had two of the girls confront Charles Sparks with a hidden tape recorder.

“[On the tape, Charles] said that he was sorry for what he had done to the girls and that he knew that he had done things that were wrong,” Marble said.

On the 20-minute tape, one of the victims said Sparks admitted to performing sexual acts on the two girls who confronted him. He is in the Michael L. Becher Adult Corrections Complex on a $100,000 cash-only bond.

If convicted and given the maximum sentence on each of the 58 counts, he could face 1,914 years in jail. His trial date is set for Sept. 23.

Sparks is represented by Jef Fifer. The New Albany attorney said he has not had time to read the police report or probable-cause affidavit and said it was too soon for him to comment on the case.

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