No jail time for man charged in child molesting case

Warning: this article mentions and includes details of sexual assault that may be disturbing to some readers.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (IUSTV News) — A Bloomington man charged in a child molesting case dating back to 2018 will spend no time in jail after a judge handed a four-year sentence Tuesday with credit for four years served.

Sebastian Helms, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of child exploitation, a level 4 felony.

The other remaining charges were dismissed through a plea agreement.

Helms was originally charged with two level 1 felony counts of child molesting, two level 4 felony counts counts of child molesting, and two level 4 felony counts of child exploitation.

As part of the plea deal, Helms must truthfully testify in the same criminal case charged against his ex-wife, Melissa Helms.

He is also required register as a sex offender.

According to online court records, Helms was on home detention for 750 days, and received good behavior credit for 188 days. Helms had also already served 392 days in jail while his case moved through the court system. He had good time credit of 131 extra days, meaning he had jail credit for the entire four-year sentence, plus a day.

According to court documents, the investigation began in September 2020 when detectives with the Bloomington Police Department received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), alerting to an account on Snapchat that possibly contained and distributed child porn.

Investigators linked Helms to the account using an IP address.

Police interviewed Helms at police headquarters that same month, where court documents say he told investigators that he lived with his wife, Melissa, and two children, ages four and seven. At the same time, investigators were trying to locate Melissa Helms, who they learned was still at work at the time.

In his interview with detectives, Sebastian helms reportedly admitted to viewing porn but denied ever looking at child porn. He also told investigators that Melissa also looked at porn online.

Court documents, however, say Helms later admitted that while Melissa was serving in the military between October 2018 and July 2019, she would ask for explicit photographs of the two children, and Helms later admitted he had sent several pictures to Melissa.

Sebastian Helms later reportedly admitted to molesting one of the children and to sending pictures of the assault to Melissa through Snapchat.

According to court documents, Melissa arrived at the Bloomington Police Department a short time later and was interviewed by police. She reportedly told investigators that she was “into male dominance,” and admitted to asking for and receiving explicit pictures of the two children.

The case against Sebastian and Melissa Helms has been working through the court system since 2020. While Sebastian reached a plea deal with prosecutors this week, Melissa Helms’ case is still active.

She is charged with two level 1 felony counts of child molesting, two level 4 felony counts counts of child molesting, and two level 4 felony counts of child exploitation.

A court hearing is scheduled for May 16 and a jury trial is expected to begin June 24.

As mentioned earlier, Melissa Helms’ ex-husband, Sebastian, agreed to truthfully testify against her during the trial this summer.

If convicted, Melissa Helms could face between 20 to 50 years for each of the two level 1 child molesting felonies, and between 2 to 12 years for each of the four level 4 child exploitation felonies, according to Indiana Sentencing Guidelines.

The ICAC Task Force is a multi-agency task force that investigates and prosecutes online child sex crimes, according to its website.

In 2023, there were more than 16-thousand cyber tips submitted, up from 14-thousand the year before, according to statistics provided by the task force. In 2019, which was the first year included in the statistics, there were a total of 4-thousand reports.

Anyone with information on exploitation, solicitation, and enticement-type crimes against children are encouraged to submit a tip to NCMEC.