A 24-year-old Arkansas man was sentenced to seven years in prison Friday afternoon for sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl last July.

Jesse Carnley originally was charged with child molestation for allegedly assaulting the daughter of a woman who had taken the man into her home under the pretense that he was in need of help. One night, Carnley allegedly molested the 9-year-old girl while her grandmother and another child were sleeping in the same room.

Carnley’s charges changed to statutory sodomy in November of 2018. The man was set to go to trial in August but entered a guilty plea on July 19.

In Judge Patrick’s Robb’s court on Friday afternoon, the mother of the victim told the court that her daughter has suffered greatly from the incident, having night terrors, being unable to sleep alone, missing school and being afraid to travel in the Downtown area where Carnley was being held.

The woman expressed she felt guilty for her daughter’s assault, saying her partner pressured her into allowing Carnley to stay with them.

“I allowed him to come into my home and hurt my daughter,” the woman said. “I don’t know why he did it, but if I said what I really want to say I’d probably get kicked out of court.”

Robb told the woman that it was not her fault the incident happened, and praised her for coming to the police right away.

“You did the right thing by calling the police,” Robb said. “Your daughter had enough trust in you to come to you.”

After hearing from the mother, prosecutor Kristina Zeit told the court why the state believed that Carnley should receive the maximum sentence, listing Carnely’s boldness in assaulting the girl while others were around, his manipulation of the family and phone records from the jail that gave an account of Carnley joking about how he faked having a mental illness to receive disability assistance.

Defense attorney Frank Tolen told the court that Carnley had expressed deep regret for his actions and had struggling with alcohol dependency for many years. Tolen also showed that Carnley was trying to rehabilitate himself while in prison by taking part in a ministry program.

Ultimately, Robb gave the man the maximum seven year sentence, noting two previous felonies the man had been convicted of that involved physically assaulting his partner and her child.

Jessika Eidson can be reached at jessika.eidson@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter at @NPNowEidson