Woman accused of child sexual abuse and distributing child pornography sentenced to 45 years

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – A woman accused of child sexual abuse has been sentenced to a minimum of 45 years in prison.

In April of 2019, then 42-year-old Elizabeth Haway was charged with a number of sexually motivated crimes involving her own child, who was only five years old at the time. She was caught when authorities received a tip that she was distributing child pornography online.

Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler says she will be spending the rest of her life in prison. 

“She will spend the rest of her life in the penitentiary, which is a satisfactory outcome. She gave up her right to trial and plead guilty to every felony that we charged her with,” Sitler said.

The crimes included sexual assault, sexual abuse, use of a minor to produce obscene matter, use of a minor in filming sexually explicit content, distributing child pornography and incest. For each crime she received a minimum of 5-25 years in prison, adding up to a complete minimum sentence of 45 years.

The case was preceded over by Judge William. J. Sadler, who expressed some sympathy for Haway, noting that she had a history of mental health issues and sexual abuse.

“The courts expressed its disgust with the crime and I think took some mercy on Ms. Haway because of her own history with sexual assault as a child.”

According to Sitler, these crimes are caused indirectly by her own history of sexual abuse, which is a generational problem that is very difficult to end the cycle of. 

“Obviously the result of her own abuse as a child, her mental illness, her sexual assault when she was a child, but it’s inexcusable.” 

Haway’s final sentence was a prison stay of a minimum of 45 years and a maximum of 155. She will have to serve 45 years before she becomes eligible for parole. She also has upcoming sentencings for more federal charges involving the distribution of child pornography.

Haway will not be eligible for parole until she is 88 years old.