HARRISON COUNTY — A former Harrison County elementary school teacher and coach sentenced to 70 years for child molestation last year has won an appeal to that sentence, but the state wants to see that reversed.

Corey R. Faith was arrested in March 2018 following an investigation that ultimately led to 36 charges of class A child molestation to one of his former students between 2005 and 2007. Each could have carried a potential sentence of 20 to 50 years under the sentencing law in place prior to 2014.

In September, Faith pleaded guilty to three of the charges and was sentenced in November to 30 years for each, to be served consecutively. Twenty years were suspended, bringing his executed prison sentence to 70 years. In late May, an appellate judge ordered that his terms be condensed to concurrent terms, thus he would serve 30 years.

Police became aware of the allegations by a friend of the victim, now an adult, who had contacted the Harrison County Sheriff's Department after learning of them. The friend was concerned because Faith was at that time a teacher at New Middleton Elementary School in Harrison County, but he was suspended from duties when the investigation began.

Court records show Faith met the victim when she was in third grade. He later taught her in his sixth-grade class, and got closer to the girl when she and her brother began staying overnight. Faith and his then-wife started watching the children while their mother was treated for mental illness.

Records from his March 2018 arrest show the victim said Faith had sex with her at her home, at his home, his car and his classroom, sometimes while other family members were in nearby rooms or asleep. The victim had said "it happened so many times [at her house], she stopped counting," according to court records, and 36 total charges were filed.

The appeals process was started in December, Faith's attorney arguing in the appellate brief filed in March that his sentence should be reduced to 30 years with each of the terms being served concurrently with no time suspended. This, court records show his attorney argued, was due to Faith's lack of criminal history, steady employment and the fact that the crimes were identical and committed against the same victim.

In late May, the appellate court ruled in his favor, but a subsequent filing by the state in July argued that the appellate court was wrong and had strayed from precedence, and that Faith's "heinous acts [were] beyond those inherent to child molesting," such as penetrating the victim without a condom. The state's filing requests the sentence be returned to the original 70 years, or if the sentence remains consecutive for the charges, that it be the maximum of 50 years with no time suspended.

On July 23, counsel for the defendant responded to the state's filing, reiterating that Faith comes from an upstanding family, has no criminal history and that the acts were toward one victim. Online court records show this as the most recent filing in the appellate case.

Neither Harrison County Prosecutor Otto Schalk nor defense appellate attorney Matthew McGovern were available for comment by press time.

Aprile Rickert is the crime and courts reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at aprile.rickert@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-206-2115. Follow her on Twitter: @Aperoll27.