A New Windsor man who’d been described as a family friend was sentenced Friday to 40 years of incarceration — double the maximum time recommended in sentencing guidelines — after a jury convicted him of raping a 6-year-old girl.
Jay B. Eline, 56, was found guilty of one count each of second-degree rape, sex abuse of a minor, third-degree sex offense, and second-degree assault March 4. Eline had been charged May 21, 2019, with sex abuse of a minor, and two counts each of second-degree rape, second-degree assault, and third-degree sex offense.
Judge Richard Titus on Friday handed down the sentence of 55 years, suspending all but 40. Maryland sentencing guidelines recommend 10 to 20 years incarceration, Titus said in court, but the guidelines are not binding. The judge decided the conviction warranted a heftier penalty, calling Eline’s actions “cold, calculated and manipulative.” Eline will be required to register for life as a sex offender.
The victim, now 7, spoke during the trial of pizza and movie nights she attended alone with Eline in his camper next to the house where her grandmother lived. She described a close connection he built with her for months before the abuse occurred.
“You breached the trust of [the child’s] family and [the child] herself,” Titus told Eline on Friday.
The state, represented by Amy Ocampo of the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office, asked for 40 years. His actions, she said, betrayed four generations of women in the family: the victim called “Mr. Jay” her best friend; the child’s mother trusted Eline and allowed them to spend time together alone; the child’s grandmother let Eline live in his camper on her property; the great-grandmother lent him money, Ocampo said, and they had him over for Easter dinner.
Eline’s attorney, public defender Lee McNulty, asked the court for a sentence on the lower end of the guidelines but did not request a specific number. He described Eline as a quiet, unassuming man who had done good in his life, such as serving in the military.
“He’s not somebody that has largely stood out in a crowd,” McNulty said.
Ocampo called for a sentencing greater than what guidelines recommended, in part because of Eline’s relationship of trust with the victim, the heinous nature of the case and the victim’s age. McNulty argued such factors were already considered when the sentencing guidelines were created.
Broken down, Eline’s lengthiest sentence is for the sex abuse of a minor charge, at 25 years. For the charge of second-degree rape, he received 20 years with all but 10 years suspended. And Titus gave him 10 years with all but five years suspended for third-degree sex offense; the second-degree assault charge was merged with the sex offense charge.
McNulty declined to comment after the sentencing. Eline spoke during the hearing about the conditions at the Carroll County Detention Center, but did not comment on the case.
A psychologist diagnosed Eline with having a pedophilic disorder in a mental health evaluation, Ocampo said. When someone is convicted of child sex abuse, it triggers an evaluation, which is conducted by the Maryland Department of Health. Titus agreed with Ocampo’s fear that Eline’s risk of reoffending is greater than stated by the evaluator, who classified Eline as being at low to moderate risk for recidivism.
Following the advice of his attorney, Eline declined to answer certain questions during the evaluation, McNulty said. The psychologist noted in the evaluation Eline’s risk of recidivism was probably understated, as they only had so much information about him, Titus acknowledged.
McNulty questioned the validity of the evaluation, suggesting the diagnosis was based on the jury’s conviction instead medical or psychological records. He also suspected police reports were slanted against Eline. In asking for a shorter sentence, McNulty raised concerns over Eline’s health and his future care under the state Division of Corrections. He said Eline had been a target at the Carroll County Detention Center.
The child’s mother and grandmother testified in March. The grandmother was present in court Friday. Ocampo said the child and her mother could not bear to be in court.
“My world shattered,” the mother previously testified. “I was cast into a waking nightmare. The one thing I didn’t want to have happen to my daughter happened.”
Ocampo read a statement authored by the victim’s mother Friday. In it, she spoke to the lack of understanding her child has and the fear of how this will affect her in the future.
“It hurts to feel questions coming from my daughter,” Ocampo read from the statement.
Jill Moore, a Carroll County Sheriff’s Office detective who handles child sex abuse cases, and Kara Finamore, a child protective services supervisor with Carroll County Department of Social Services, testified as to what they learned from interviews with the child. An audio recording of that first interview was played in court in March.
“He said if you want to come in my bed you have to take your clothes off,” the child said in the recording.
The child testified that Eline told her to touch his “private part” during a movie night, and she did. She also said Eline did things of a sexual nature to her, but not intercourse.
Eline faced three more charges, additional counts of second-degree assault, second-degree rape and third-degree sex offense, that were alleged to have occurred around Valentine’s Day 2019. In the defense’s closing statement to the jury, McNulty argued the prosecution failed to prove the alleged abuse occurred around Feb. 14, 2019. The jury found him not guilty of these charges.
The charges Eline was convicted of occurred on or about April 22, 2019, except for the charge of sex abuse of a minor, which occurred between Feb. 14 and April 22, 2019.
When Eline is released, he will spend five years on supervised probation, according to terms of the sentencing. He may not be in contact with the victim or victim’s family or anyone younger than the age of 18. Eline’s access to the internet will be limited by his parole agent.
Ocampo said he could be eligible for parole after serving half of his sentence. He gets credit for time served since May 2019.