Tribune-Courier General Manager
BENTON – The woman who was allegedly raped, beaten, dragged and had shots fired all around her is asking the state for leniency in the case of former South Marshall Middle School principal Kent Barlow.
Commonwealth Attorney Mark Blankenship says the victim has stated that while she wants Barlow to be punished, she may be willing to drop rape charges in exchange for second degree assault charges, which would carry a much lower prison sentence.
“The victim has a lot feelings invested here,” said Blankenship. “They were together for three years in a very close and committed relationship. She thought they were on the right track to reconcile on the night she went to visit him and the assault took place. This has taken quite a toll on her mentally. I think she sees that she could never be comfortable with him again and feel safe, but she’s having a very hard time.”
Blankenship said the victim has even attempted to visit Barlow in the Marshall County Jail, where he has remained lodged since the alleged March 11 attack.
“Of course she was not allowed the visit, but that tells you just how torn she is,” said Blankenship.
He also said the victim and Barlow’s sister remain very close friends and he believes she could be asking her for leniency for her brother.
If convicted on charges of rape, kidnapping, assault and wanton endangerment, Barlow could face up to 40 years in prison, with the mandate that he serve 85 percent of the term. The state has offered him 15 years in prison, with eligibility for parole after three years, mandatory sex offender treatment and sex offender status for the rest of his life.
Blankenship said Barlow’s attorney refused the offer, primarily due to the sex offender stipulation.
“I’ve had a difficult time with that, myself,” said Blankenship. “When you look at the sex offender registry you primarily think these people fall into the category of perverts. I don’t see Kent Barlow as that. I see him as a man who can explode and be very dangerous in a relationship.”
Blankenship referenced the case of Steve Nunn, a former Kentucky State Legislator convicted of killing his girlfriend.
“Barlow was teetering on the verge of something very similar to the Steve Nunn case,” said Blankenship.
Blankenship said that while he still hopes to work out a plea deal with Barlow and his attorneys, he will accept nothing less than prison time. “If he doesn’t agree to that, we will have to let a jury decide.”
On Monday, Barlow appeared in court with attorney Mark Bryant. A status hearing has been set for July 2.