Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Mom gets life in rape case


Judge: Woman should never be freed

BY WALT SCHAEFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BATAVIA — A Bethel mother on Tuesday received four consecutive life terms in prison for the repeated rapes of her two daughters.

        “I do not believe you should ever be released back into so ciety,” said Clermont County Common Pleas Judge William Walker as he imposed the sentence.

        The judge also sentenced the woman to four five- to-18-year jail terms on felonious assault charges stemming from abuse of the two girls as well as two sons, to run consecutively to the life terms. He also classified the woman, 34, as a sexual predator.

        “I don't think I have gotten through to you,” Judge Walker said. “I don't think anybody has. ... I don't think 10 days of testimony in (the courtroom), hearing your children by videotape and seeing them in person testify before you about the horrors they went through, really got through to you.

        “The thing I can hope for from this sentence is to take away from you any hope that you have for life because you have taken all hope (from your children) and, really, your children's lives. They see no future. They have no hope for the future and, frankly, I hope that settles into your heart — ... those same feelings.”

        Judge Walker said that in 25 years as an attorney and judge he has not been involved in a more horrific crime, “And, I can assure you, I will oppose your release with parole authorities ... as long as I'm on the bench.”

        Before the sentence was imposed, the woman told the court she forgave the jury and those who testified against her. “I have been a good mother. ... I'm innocent. ... I love my children. I have always loved my children.” She said she will appeal.

        Defense attorney John Woliver called on Judge Walker “to exercise a certain amount

        of compassion and understanding” to a defendant who experienced similar childhood circumstances.

        The woman was convicted by jury on March 18. The Cincinnati Enquirer is not naming her to protect the identities of the children.

        Investigators say the woman allowed the girls to be sexually abused over several years, and participated in the sex acts — at one time holding a daughter down and telling her: “Take it like a woman.” Clermont County Prosecutor Don White said the girls were sold to neighbors for beer, cigarettes and drugs. The parents permitted sexual encounters with up to 22 other people, investigators said.

        The charges, filed in 1997, stem from incidents in the early to mid-1990s and came to light through an investigation by Clermont County social service agencies and information that the girls, now 13 and 7, told foster parents. The boys are now 15 and 9.

        The younger girl's father committed suicide in 1997 after being questioned about molesting his stepdaughter and daughter. The father of the older girl has been convicted of raping her and is in prison.

        Brook Lorthioir, of Clermont County Children's Services, told Judge Walker before sentencing that the older girl is in a juvenile psychiatric treatment center and, at times, must be physically restrained. In an interview, Ms. Lorthioir said the girl told a social worker: “I may be locked in here, but everyone else is locked out.” The other children are in foster care.

        Assistant County Prosecutor Daniel “Woody” Breyer, who tried the case, said the conviction “by no way closes this case.”

        He said he is looking into others — at least two — who the parents allegedly permitted to have sex with the girls. “I can't promise future indictments, but we are not going to shove this into a corner,” he said.

        Mr. Breyer said the mother has shown no remorse and has not been willing to help in the investigation into others involved in the rapes.

        Two woman, who have been foster parents to two of the children, urged Judge Walker to impose the maximum sentence.

        Pam Helm said the defendant “should get the same chance she gave her children ... none.”

        Cathy Huhn described her former foster child as a girl “who holds no hope for the future; no dreams for a life ... She lives only with the past. Will she ever be free? Will she ever know the joy of life or the happiness of a family? Will she ever go to sleep and have a good dream?” The defendant “took their childhood, their lives ... their dreams. Please, give her the maximum.”

       



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