Austin Puckett

Austin Puckett

A Cherokee County man has been ordered to serve two concurrent life sentences for sexually assaulting his girlfriend’s daughter in 2017 and 2018.

Austin Carl Puckett was sentenced Wednesday for sexually assaulting the 10-year-old daughter of his girlfriend in their Holly Springs home. The victim reported the abuse, which occurred when she was 9 and 10, to her grandmother in March 2018, according to a statement from the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office.

The defendant was found guilty by a Cherokee County jury earlier this month of one count of aggravated child molestation, one count of criminal attempt to commit aggravated child molestation, one count of aggravated sexual battery, and one count of child molestation.

Judge Ellen McElyea sentenced Puckett to two life sentences with 35 years to serve in prison for the aggravated child molestation and aggravated sexual battery counts. She also sentenced him to 30 years to serve in prison for criminal attempt to commit aggravated child molestation, and 20 years to serve 19 years in prison for child molestation. All counts are to run concurrent with each other for a total sentence of life to serve 35 years in confinement in the state prison system.

Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Zachary Smith, the lead prosecutor in the case, said the victim could no longer trust men after the abuse.

“A child’s innocence was lost due to this defendant’s crime. The defendant was a father figure to her, someone she trusted and cared about. But he betrayed that trust by sexually assaulting her,” said District Attorney Shannon Wallace in a statement. “The jury heard evidence from both sides and their verdict has ensured that this man will never harm another child again.”

Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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