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Jury convicts Gold Hill man to up to 221 years for numerous sex offenses

SALISBURY — A Gold Hill man will spend the rest of life behind bars following a five-day jury trial and a conviction of 24 felony counts of sex offenses against a child. Galen Lee Smith, 45, was sentenced to up to 221 years.

He has been in the Rowan County Detention Center since his April 2011 arrest, which made his case the oldest awaiting trial.

Judge Christopher W. Bragg sentenced Smith to consecutive prison sentences totaling a minimum of 178.67 years to a maximum of 221.33 years. Bragg also issued a permanent no-contact order between Smith and the victims.

In April 2011, law enforcement officers were notified by a family member of the victims that they had been molested by Smith when they were small children. Detectives began investigating and discovered the children were six to 13 years old in the late 1990s to early 2000s when Smith repeatedly molested them and forced them to perform sexual acts with him on a weekly basis.

The investigation revealed Smith would force both victims to watch pornographic videos and as he groomed the children, which is common in sexual offenses, officials said, Smith escalated his behavior eventually raping one of the young victims repeatedly.

In April 2011, one of the victims, at this time an adult, was concerned about a younger family member and came forward. Upon hearing of the disclosure, the other victim, also an adult at this time, came forward in a separate interview with law enforcement.

Smith was interviewed by law enforcement and said he could not remember if he had touched the children due to an accident that occurred in 2009.

Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook said she appreciated the dedication of Assistant District Attorney Kristina Scally preparing the case for trial. Cook said her office was able to “hold Smith accountable for his criminal conduct due to the cooperation of the victims who testified before a jury.”

“It can be extremely difficult for victims of these types of offenses to come forward and testify in front of complete strangers, especially when the criminal acts involve a trusted family member,” Cook said.

She said it is not uncommon for victims to disclose sexual acts that occurred at an earlier time. Cook also said her office continues to be committed to aggressively prosecuting offenders who take advantage of children.

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