Public Safety

Newton couple charged in sex abuse of runaways

Zachary Morecock
Zachary Morecock
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NEWTON — Two Newton residents have been charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse of runaway minors.

Zachary Morecock, 21, of Newton, faces 15 counts of third-degree sexual abuse, and Ariel Utterback, 22, of Newton, faces 10 counts of third-degree sexual abuse.

According to court records, five of the charges concern incidents on Aug. 15 and April 1 of this year and June 1, 2017. Utterback faces no charges in the Aug. 15 incident.

According to Newton police, Morecock admitted to sex acts with an underage victim at least three times while Utterback watched and participated.

The incidents took place five times at Meadowbrook Apartments in Newton, and five times at Courtyard Apartments in Newton.

Morecock and Utterback were each charged with 10 counts of third-degree sexual abuse for one victim under age 16.

Morecock was charged with an additional four counts of third-degree sexual abuse for a runaway juvenile victim under the age of 16.

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And Morecock was charged with one additional count of third-degree sexual abuse for a third juvenile victim under the age of 16, also a runaway.

Newton Police Lt. Bill Henninger said investigators are not yet sure how the suspects determined the underage victims were runaways, but sexual abuse cases like this are fairly uncommon, though runaways happen frequently.

“Reported runaways are a common thing in Newton,” Henninger said. “Sometimes, it’s some kid who left home for a few hours because they didn’t want to be home, and there are times where they come from a different city.”

Morecock is being held at the Jasper County Jail on a $140,000 bond. Utterback is detained on a $100,000 bond.

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