A Lincoln County man arrested last month at a popular Morganton festival for posing as a journalist in order to shoot inappropriate videos of children, was sentenced to three years of supervised probation Friday after he pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent liberties with a minor.
John David Warlick, 51, of 2235 Riverview Road in Lincolnton, pleaded guilty to the criminal acts without a prior deal or arrangement, according to officers with Morganton Department of Public Safety.
Although he was originally only charged with one count of indecent liberties with a minor, Warlick was indicted by a grand jury last week on the additional count.
On Friday, the judge sentenced Warlick to supervised probation after suspending a prior decision to jail him for nearly two years. It is unclear why the judge made the decision to suspend a prison sentence.
A witness at the Historic Morganton Festival on Sept. 10 notified public safety officers of the manâ€™s suspicious behavior, authorities said. The individual, who wished to remain anonymous, told officers that Warlick had been videotaping children in the crowd and was wearing a hat that appeared to have been altered in some fashion.
Officers later found that Warlickâ€™s video footage contained zoomed-in shots what they described as of â€œchildrenâ€™s private areas.â€
In addition, authorities seized the fake black sports cap he was wearing. The hat was embroidered with the words, â€œNBC Sports,â€ officers said.
Following his arrest, Warlick confessed to authorities that this year wasnâ€™t the first time he had shot similar video at the festival.
Nearly 400 videotapes, security badges and â€œaltered identificationsâ€ were seized during a search of Warlickâ€™s residence and vehicle, officers said. However, they noted that some of the badges were authentic since Warlick had been working as a guard for Griffith Security in Hickory.
In addition to probation, Warlick has been ordered to receive a mental health assessment and register as a Lincoln County sex offender, according to the Burke County Clerk of Courtâ€™s Office.
Warlickâ€™s probation mandates that he must abide by at least 16 out of 19 court-opposed conditions for sex offenders.
According to a court document signed by judge W. Robert Bell on Friday, such probation conditions specify that Warlick must abide by a curfew determined by his supervising officer and is prohibited from volunteering for any organization or business â€œthat provides services to or employs persons under 18.â€
Other stipulations articulated in the document forbid him from purchasing alcohol, controlled substances or any items â€œtypically used by children.â€
Authorities have yet to survey all of the seized video footage at this time but are continuing an investigation that could produce additional charges in the future. Currently, law enforcement agencies in Lincoln County and other area jurisdictions have yet to hit Warlick with any additional charges of their own.
The charges that Warlick admitted to on Friday stemmed solely from incidents that occurred at the Morganton festival both this year and in past years and are directly related to video footage in which a child was inappropriately filmed, authorities said.
Information from the Morganton Herald was also used in this article, with permission.
JENNA-LEY HARRISON, Staff Writer