Called a "monster" by the state's attorney, a 43-year-old Westminster man was sentenced yesterday to serve 20 years in state prison for sexually molesting two nieces and the daughter of a family friend.
Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. imposed a total sentence of 130 years on the defendant after telling him that he -- like the seven-woman, five-man jury that convicted him Feb. 10 -- believed the testimony of the three young victims.
The judge suspended 40 years of the sentence, and ordered the man to serve seven 10-year sentences concurrently with the 20 years imposed on two counts of child abuse and a second-degree sexual abuse count.
"I thought the sentence was just," said Carroll State's Attorney Thomas H. Hickman. "This guy is a real monster. He should be off the street."
The jury deliberated less than six hours before convicting the defendant of three counts of child abuse, two second-degree sex offenses, four third-degree sex offenses, two perverted practice counts and five counts of battery.
The man, whose name is being withheld to protect the identities of his victims, was arrested in August after a four-month state police investigation revealed that he had been fondling the 10-year-old daughter of a family friend for at least two years.
That investigation also revealed sexual abuse of his 15-year-old niece when she was 9 and of a 9-year-old niece last year. The victims were the prosecution's key witnesses in the three-day trial.
Each victim described in detail how the man would fondle her while they watched television or baked cookies at his house, or while he visited them in their homes.
During his brief sentencing hearing yesterday, the defendant was silent and presented no witnesses on his behalf. However, according to court officials and Mr. Hickman, several friends and relatives wrote letters to Judge Beck on his behalf. The letters are part of the man's pre-sentence investigation report, but are not part of the public court record.
At his trial, the man presented 24 character witnesses. Many of them -- including one of his sisters-in-law -- said they would trust the man with their children.
The defendant took the stand during his trial, and denied abusing the girls.
According to Mr. Hickman, the man still maintains his innocence. In his pre-sentence investigation interview, the man said the girls made up the charges to attract attention, Mr. Hickman said.
"This guy is not amenable to treatment," said the prosecutor. "If pedophiles are to ever be deterred, this can only be done with a lengthy sentence."