The only thing the 53-year-old man had in his life was the love and respect of the people in his community.
But, his lawyer told a panel of three Carroll judges yesterday, he lost all of that when he sexually abused three neighborhood children during a three-year period.
"What he did was grotesque, he admits that," Samuel Truette, an assistant public defender, told the panel in an effort to persuade the judges to reduce the man's eight-year prison sentence.
Mr. Truette asked the judges to send the man to treatment rather than to jail.
"The only good thing in his life was the love of the community. He no longer has that."
On March 16, the Lineboro man -- whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the children -- pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse and two counts of battery. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop nine other charges against him.
According to court documents, after taking the children shopping or to get something to eat, the man would take them to his bedroom and force them to perform sex acts. At least once, the man had intercourse with one of the victims.
It was the trust the children had in the man that made his crimes so horrendous, Assistant State's Attorney Eileen McInerney argued yesterday. "The sentence was certainly legal, and it was certainly fair."
She said the man did the "typical things" that a "typical child abuser" does when he gained the children's trust and then abused that trust.
The children are now 7 to 13 years old. The abuse began to the older children in 1988, court documents said. The man was arrested in October after one of the children reported the abuse to the police.
He decided to plead guilty after determining that he "didn't want to drag the kids through" a court appearance "because you are going to put me in jail, so it doesn't matter," court documents said.
In court documents and in interviews with state police, the man said he, too, was abused when he was a child. Mr. Truette referred to the man's childhood yesterday in his request to the judges.
"It's a crying shame he would have to die in the circumstances he is in now," Mr. Truette said. "I request the court to show some mercy."
The panel -- composed of District Judge Donald M. Smith and Circuit Judges Francis M. Arnold and Luke K. Burns Jr. -- will issue a decision within 30 days.