RUSSELLVILLE — Authorities said a 71-year-old Franklin County man is in jail, charged with sexual abuse and sexual torture of a child.
Freddy Hovater, 110 Iris Lane, Spruce Pine, is charged with sexual torture of a child under 12 and first-degree sexual abuse, Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said Tuesday.
Oliver said Hovater was arrested Monday night.
Investigators said he is accused of using a sexual toy and the wooden handle of a bell to abuse the girl. He also is accused of sitting in the bathroom, watching the child take a bath.
Oliver said according to the accusations, the abuse went on for at least a year at Hovater’s house when the child would visit.
“When I got the call I was shocked to hear something like this was going on,” the sheriff said.
Investigators said the girl lived near Hovater.
Oliver said the Franklin County Department of Human Resources notified his department Monday to report the allegations.
Reports indicate the last time the child was at Hovater’s house was Saturday.
Authorities said the child told a family member what was happening and they contacted DHR.
Deputies seized a computer from Hovater’s house along with items believed to have been used in the abuse and torture.
Investigators said Hovater admitted to watching the child take a shower and bath, and that he would watch television with her, but denied the sexual abuse.
Oliver said the investigation is ongoing.
Hovater was in the Franklin County Jail on Tuesday without bail.
Sexual torture of a child under 12 is a Class A felony and is punishable by 10 years to life in prison, if convicted. First-degree sexual abuse is a Class C felony which carries the punishment of 1-10 years if convicted.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.
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