Father Sentenced in Molestation
A father who sexually molested his young daughters will spend a decade or more in state prison.
He agreed Wednesday to a plea deal in Moore County Superior Court that spared him trial and their having to testify.
(The Pilot is following its policy of not identifying defendants in such cases because doing so would indirectly identify the victims.)
The two girls sat with their mother in the courtroom as Assistant District Attorney Warren McSweeney described the crimes and the plea bargain to Senior Resident Superior Court Judge James M. Webb.
"They are present, but they do not wish to say anything," McSweeney said. "The events took place during a six-year period -- actually over six years."
He described the father fondling his children and touching their private parts. One girl was born in 1991, the other in 1993.
Webb, in accordance with procedure, made certain on the record that the man understood that by pleading guilty he would be treated as guilty whether he was in fact guilty or instead accepting the plea as being in his best interest without actually admitting guilt -- an "Alford" plea.
Webb outlined the maximum punishments if convicted by a jury after trial and the deal agreed upon between the state and the defendant, who was represented by former assistant district attorney Richard Conley.
The charges include 27 counts of first-degree sex offense, indecent liberties, and felony child abuse, as well as one count of incest and second-degree rape. The deal dropped the latter two, consolidated others, and resulted in guilty pleas by the father to five separate counts as part of the plea arrangement.
Webb asked him if he had anything he wished to say, and the man said he did and would do so under oath.
"I just want to say I am sorry to my family," he said, glancing briefly back to where his children were sitting. "To my family, and I "
Conley described the man as a hard worker who had supported his family. Webb wanted to know more about the defendant before deciding whether or not the court would accept the plea arrangement.
He asked about what the man had done for a living, where he'd lived and worked, who he'd worked for.
"Any other children?" Webb asked.
"I have 10 children," the man said. "Actually 11, but one is married and lives in (another state). All but three are still living with my wife."
"How many of your children are male and how many female?" Webb asked.
Half of each, he was told. The oldest was 27, a child of his wife's first marriage. All the rest were his own biological children.
"The defendant pled guilty to child abuse, sexual acts, a class E felony," Webb said, over and over, sentencing him to spend 25 to 39 months in prison on each of the five convictions, each succeeding sentence to run at the expiration of the previous one -- a total of 125 to 195 months in prison. He ordered him to be housed in the Sexual Offender Accountability and Responsibility (SOAR) Program unit at the Harnett Correctional Institute and to be registered as a sex offender upon his eventual release.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at jchappell@ thepilot.com.
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