Johnson City mother sentenced to 25 years in child rape conviction

Becky Campbell • Updated Oct 21, 2017 at 12:04 AM

ELIZABETHTON — A Johnson City woman agreed to serve 25 years in prison Friday after being convicted earlier this year on child rape charge that stemmed from incidents involving her own son.

Amber Nicole Ray, 27, was convicted in April after jurors heard her children describe acts a prosecutor said no child should know about. Testimony the jury heard apparently included the boy’s description of performing oral sex on his mother, although he didn’t know what the act was called.

The boy’s sister also testified that she heard noises coming from her mother’s bedroom, where Ray and her son were, and that both came out of the room with their hair messed up. The girl also testified she heard her mother tell the boy he was “sexy.”

The children have since been adopted and their names changed.

Ray was arrested on the child rape charge in April 2015 after being indicted by a Carter County grand jury. The investigation began in March 2015 after the Elizabethton Police Department received information about the allegations and interviewed the children.

When Criminal Court Judge Stacy Street called up the case in court Friday, he said he had been prepared to hear evidence for a sentencing hearing. Instead, District Attorney Janet Hardin and Ray’s attorney, Nikki Himebaugh, announced they had reached an agreement for Ray to serve 25 years.

“That’s the mandatory minimum,” Street told Ray. “It’s 100 percent, day for day.”

Ray indicated she understood the sentence. Street also noted that Ray had been in protective custody since her bond was revoked after the jury found her guilty in April. Before the trial, Ray had been free on a $50,000 bond.

In a sentencing memorandum filed by Himebaugh, she stated that Ray would have testified that it was her family that sexually abused the boy while the children were with those relatives, and that the allegations against Ray were not made until the children had been taken from her.

Street set a hearing for a motion for new trial on Jan. 12.

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