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Former Marine pleads guilty to molesting teen

Star - 10/11/2018

Oct. 11--A former Marine pleaded guilty to molesting a teenager in court Wednesday.

Forrest Wayne Smart, 23, agreed to a plea offer from the Cleveland County District Attorney's Office to spend six months in jail for indecent liberties with a child and second-degree kidnapping. The victim was 14 at the time, and they were in an ongoing relationship, Prosecutor Beth Lari said during the hearing.

The girl's grandmother, who will not be named to protect the identity of the victim, attended the hearing in Cleveland County Superior Court. Her message to Smart, "I hope it's worth it for all of the lives he ruined."

From chats to more

Smart was introduced to the teenager as a family friend, from there he took advantage of that relationship, said Lari.

He was stationed along the coast when he started calling the teen in May 2017. Calls turned to sexting and then things became physical.

"He said he loved her and that he wanted to marry her," Lari said.

At one point Smart even took the girl and kept her away from her family and friends.

Finding out

It was about six months later her family found out about what was happening between the two.

"He called the school asking about her," Lari told the judge.

The school resource officers contacted the teenager's parents with the information. After a discussion, her parents realized what was happening.

"He was sworn to protect the innocent," the grandmother said.

From serving to jail

Smart was recently honorably discharged from the Marine Corps but will spend the start of his civilian life behind bars.

Superior Court Judge Don Bridges ordered Smart to serve an active six-month sentence.

Smart will be on probation and spend 30 years on the sex offender registry. He is to have no contact with the victim.

"I hope during his time he will realize this was not worth it," the grandmother said.

Joyce Orlando can be reached at 704-669-3341 or find her on Twitter @Star_J_Orlando.

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(c)2018 The Star (Shelby, N.C.)

Visit The Star (Shelby, N.C.) at www.shelbystar.com

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