One defendant plans appeal of minimum 100-year sentence

By Natalie St. John

SOUTH BEND — Two local child molesters might never walk free again.

On Oct. 7, John Keone Lopaka Aylward, 46, was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum 100-year sentence, following his Sept. 20 conviction for six counts of first-degree rape of a child, six counts of first-degree incest, three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, dealing and possession of child pornography, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

In a statement following the sentencing hearing, County Prosecutor Mark McClain called Aylward’s crimes “the most horrific violation of a child” he had seen in his career. He thanked Superior Court Judge Michael Sullivan for supporting the state’s request for the harshest possible sentence.

“I also agreed with Judge Sullivan who said, ‘There was simply not one mitigating reason to impose a less significant sentence’,” McClain said. According to McClain, Sullivan also told the court that in his 32-year career, he had not seen a more egregious offense.

During the hearing, Aylward indicated that he intends to appeal. The week after the hearing, Aylward was moved to the Washington Corrections Center, a medium, close and maximum security facility for men in Aberdeen.

Also on Oct. 7, Gary Dwayne Hollis Jr., 42, formerly of Ocean Park, was sentenced to life with a minimum of 38 months in prison, after pleading guilty to second-degree child molestation.

Hollis was arrested in July, on suspicion of rape of a child and other charges.

According to McClain, the length of time Hollis spends in prison will ultimately depend on whether he meets certain conditions. Hollis must complete a sex offender treatment program, and prove that he is no longer a danger to society to become eligible for release. If he is eventually released, he will be required to register as a sex offender, and will remain under state Department of Corrections supervisions for the rest of his life.

McClain said Hollis stared straight ahead, as his female victim recounted to the judge the abuse she had suffered. He chose not to make any comment before the judge imposed his sentence. Hollis, too, has been moved to the Washington Corrections Center.

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