Judge rejects no-jail plea agreement for 65-year-old sex offender

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Frank DeLoache
fdeloache@salisburypost.com
A Superior Court judge on Wednesday rejected a plea agreement that would have allowed a New London man to avoid jail time for taking sexual liberties with his granddaughter.
Instead, the 65-year-old defendant will spend 30 days in jail ó beginning this evening ó and then serve three years of probation, according to Stanly County court records.
To avoid identifying the victim of a sex crime, the Salisbury Post is not identifying the defendant, the 12-year-old victim or the victim’s parents. The girl and her parents now live in Rowan County.
The victim’s parents told the Post recently they did not agree with a proposed plea agreement between the defendant and prosecutors that would have allowed him to serve a term of house arrest, rather than jail. The agreement allowed the defendant to plead guilty to two misdemeanor sex crimes instead of the four felonies with which he was charged.
District Attorney Michael Parker, chief prosecutor for Stanly, Anson and Richmond counties, said previously that rules of professional conduct prevented him from commenting on the pending case.
But court officials indicated the prosecutor’s office agreed to the bargain, thinking the parents wanted to bring an end to the case and avoid their daughter having to testify.
During a court hearing Wednesday, a prosecutor presented that plea agreement to Superior Court Judge Kimberly S. Taylor.
The defendant’s 12-year-old granddaughter and her parents were sitting in the courtroom at the time, and Taylor asked them if they supported the agreement, the parents said. Taylor said the agreement did not require any jail time, the girl’s mother said.
The girl’s father told the judge they thought the girl’s grandfather should serve at least some time in jail for assaulting his granddaughter.
The judge then called the prosecutor and defense attorney to her bench and met with them for a longer time in her chambers.
At one point, the parents said, Assistant District Attorney Debra Jackson came to them and asked if they would accept a longer term of house arrest.
The girl’s mother said she could not accept that, but the father said he could. Prosecutor Jackson said she would the judge they were divided.When the hearing resumed, the New London defendant pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of sexual battery against a child, according to court records.
Taylor sentenced the man to 120 days in prison, suspending all but 30 days of that sentence during three years of probation.
The judge then ordered the man to serve 30 consecutive days in jail and report to the Stanly County jail at 7 p.m. today.
According to court records, Taylor also ordered the man to:
– Pay a $500 fine and court costs.
– Enter the state’s Sex Offender Control Program, getting a psychiatric assessment and complying with any treatment ordered.
– Avoid living in any residence with a minor child.
– Avoid being in the presence of his 12-year-old granddaughter and the victim’s family, including his own son.
Jackson, the assistant district attorney, and the defendant’s Albemarle attorney did not return messages from a Post reporter.
The defendant, who previously denied assaulting his granddaughter, said Thursday “the courts lied to me” with a promise of no jail time. But he said he did not want to make more comment until he finishes serving his 30-day sentence.
The victim’s parents said they are glad the criminal case is over and the defendant will spend at least some time in jail, rather than the comfort of his own home.
“I was happy to hear him plead guilty,” the girl’s mother said. “That did something for me, and I think that did something for my daughter.”
The parents had assured their daughter she did not have to attend Wednesday’s hearing, but the girl said she wanted to be there.
The girl’s father acknowledged he felt “ripped up inside” having to face his own father in court. But he said he’s also considering suing his father on behalf of his daughter and putting any damages they might get in a civil suit into a trust fund for their daughter’s future use.

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