Zach Smith pleads guilty to battery, maintaining common nuisance

KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind. -- The son of a sheriff's candidate who was accused of having sex with a minor pleaded guilty to battery and maintaining a common nuisance.

The victim's father attended Zachary Smith's plea hearing Tuesday.

He said the family was disappointed with the outcome.

“We want a little more accountability. We think that this is too light," the victim's father said.

The victim's family did not want to be identified.

Her father was pushing for sex-crime related charges against Smith who allegedly had sex with a 14-year-old girl.

“We want to see some things added on to this plea agreement this young man is trying to make to make it more accountable on his part," he said.

Smith pleaded guilty to battery and maintaining a public nuisance for taking underage girls to a storage unit and giving them drugs and alcohol on the fourth of July in 2021.

That's also the night he's accused of having sex with a minor.

The plea agreement means Smith would avoid jail time and could even avoid probation.

“The reason for that because it jibes with the facts as I thought the state was able to prove. That decision was also reached in conjunction with the family. The family was not in a situation, they were extremely reasonable, didn’t feel as though they wanted to mar this young man’s life," said prosecutor DJ Sigler of Whitley County.

The victim’s family says the outcome isn't good enough for them.

They want to see accountability and a change in the law.

“You can get her drunk, get her high and have sex with her and then they’ll put that under Romeo and Juliet like a continuing relationship," the victim's father said. “We need to try to petition the Indiana General Assembly to get them to reword the law because it’s left a broad opening for guys like this.”

The victim's family says they plan to submit a petition the assembly to help prevent this from happening to more girls the future.

Smith is set to be sentenced September 19th.

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