Defendant Convicted of Sexually Abusing an Eight-Year-Old

Prosecutors in DA Charme Allen’s Child Abuse Unit obtained convictions against a man who sexually abused an eight-year-old child.  Joseph Steven Owen, 72, was set for trial this morning, but before jury selection began, he pled guilty-as-charged to two counts of Rape of a Child and three counts of Aggravated Sexual Battery.  Judge Steve Sword ordered Owen into custody and set the case for sentencing on December 2 where Owen faces a sentence of twenty-five to forty years in prison without the possibility of parole on the Rape of a Child counts.

Assistant District Attorneys Jordan Murray and Ashley McDermott explained to the Court that on January 19, 2022, the victim entered the Family Justice Center and disclosed to Knox County Sheriff’s Office Detective Caleb Shuford that she had been sexually abused by Owen beginning when she was eight years old.  The abuse continued for approximately two years.  At the direction of law enforcement, the victim made a recorded phone call to Owen.  During the phone call, Owen made several admissions about performing sexual acts on the victim when she was eight.

“The willingness of this victim to come forward and confront her abuser led to the conviction today, and because of this conviction, this perpetrator will spend the rest of his life in prison,” said DA Charme Allen.

Rape of a Child is a Class A felony that carries a punishment of twenty-five to forty years in prison without the possibility of parole.  Aggravated Sexual Battery is a Class B felony carrying a punishment between eight and twelve years in prison.  Assistant Victim Witness Coordinator Erin Morrison aided in the prosecution of this case.

If you have any questions, please contact Sean McDermott at 865-215-2515 or [email protected]. For more information about the District Attorney’s Office, visit our website at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.