Schizophrenic man found guilty of child molestation

Tyrone Barnum (Source: Columbus Police Department)
Tyrone Barnum (Source: Columbus Police Department)

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  A local man will spend the next six years behind bars for brutally attacking and molesting an 8-year-old Columbus child in her home.

A jury found Tyrone Barnum guilty of aggravated child molestation and aggravated assault in Muscogee County Superior Court Wednesday.

He was sentenced to 30 years, 14 to serve behind bars. Barnum is getting credit for the eight years he's been in jail since the 2003 attack.

Assistant District Attorney Kristy Dugan says back in April of 2003, a group of children was being watched by a family friend in an East Columbus home. Their caretaker stepped outside the front door to speak to a neighbor and Barnum, a cousin of the 8-year-old victim, came to the back door. The child recognized him and let him in. That's when Dugan says he picked up a knife and threatened all of the kids with it. They started screaming and he ran to lock both the front and back doors. At knife point, she says he forced the little girl upstairs where he sexually assaulted her. The caretaker and another family member who had arrived at the house heard the screams inside and forced their way in. Dugan says Barnum came downstairs with the child and told the women to feel free to call the police, saying they couldn't do anything to him because he's schizophrenic.

Barnum was arrested at the scene and Dugan says for years, he was found not competent to stand trial because of his mental illness. In April of 2010, a doctor deemed him competent and after several hearings, his trial started this past Monday at the Government Center.

Barnum was previously convicted of robbery in 1998 and sentenced to 5 years. He was released in March of 2003 and the attack happened a month later in April.

Jurors acquitted Barnum and found him not guilty on other charges of aggravated assault and possession of a knife in connection with the assault.

Dugan suspects he will register as a local sex offender when he's released from prison. He will spend the remainder of his 30 year sentence

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