child sex abuse charges
A Northport, NY man who was convicted of sexually assaulting a young male relative at least four times over seven years was sentenced to 14 years in prison Thursday, officials said.
“This defendant used his relationship with a child and his family to repeatedly and brazenly abuse a child over a seven-year period,” Singas said in a news release. “A brave young survivor stood up to the defendant, who betrayed his trust and subjected him to both physical and emotional abuse by threatening the victim’s mother if the survivor reported Abodalo’s actions. The defendant is being held accountable because of the courage of this young, heroic man.”
But Abodalo’s attorney, Michael Alber of Commack, said he has already filed a notice of appeal.
“We’re disappointed in the jury’s verdict,” he said. “We thought that based upon the evidence in the case that the complaining witness was not credible. We genuinely believe in his innocence and have every intention of going forward on the appeal and exposing the lies and fabrications.”
Prosecutors said the assaults occurred in Nassau County between April 1999 and March 2006, when the victim was between 3 and 10 years old. Officials said that the victim was told multiple times by Abodalo to keep the abuse secret or his mother would "get hurt."
But the boy told his parents in February 2009, prosecutors said.
Abodalo was previously sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting his nephew, the DA says.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Former Hanna Boys Center clinical director Kevin Scott Thorpe pleaded no contest Friday to child sex assault charges in a plea deal that will avert a trial in perhaps Sonoma County’s highest-profile sex abuse case in recent memory.
He will be required to permanently register as a sex offender upon any release. He also will be subject to consideration for civil commitment as a sexually violent predator if he is determined to be too dangerous to return to the general population, prosecutors said.
As a caseworker and then clinical director of the 73-year-old center for at-risk youth in Sonoma Valley, Thorpe had close contact with scores of vulnerable adolescent and teenage boys in his care, including three of the four victims in the criminal case.
A married father of two young girls, he knew the fourth victim outside of work. Separately, the state residential care licensing board that oversees the Hanna Boys Center accused Thorpe of molesting at least seven clients at the residential facility and school, which is affiliated with Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa.
The center earlier this year avoided a potential state shutdown that stemmed in part from the scandal, which included a whistleblower case brought by Thorpe’s predecessor at Hanna, Tim Norman.
Earlier this month, a Sonoma County jury awarded Norman $1.1 million dollars, finding he was wrongly terminated for speaking up about bullying, drug use and other unaddressed concerns at the home for troubled boys.
Two of the victims in the criminal case against Thorpe are brothers who also are plaintiffs in a civil case against him, the boys center and the Santa Rosa Diocese.
Prosecutors say the abuse against them began in 2007, when they were 14 and 15, and continued until 2011 and 2010, respectively.
During testimony at a May preliminary hearing in the criminal case, the victims detailed early encounters in Thorpe’s office in which he gave them pornography and talked about sex, eventually escalating his encounters to masturbation and finally incidents of oral sex in his office and elsewhere.
The victims said they submitted to the abuse because they believed Thorpe controlled their future at a facility that supplied food, care and structure they lacked in their family lives.
With his ruling Friday accepting the plea deal, Judge Dana Simons declared Thorpe guilty on five counts of unlawful oral copulation with a minor, five counts of unlawful copulation accomplished by duress, and one count of misdemeanor child molestation.
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said the plea agreement negotiated through her office ensures Thorpe will be behind bars “for a considerable period of time” while sparing his young victims the trauma of testifying in the case.
Ravitch said the resolution also eliminates risks related to putting the case before a jury, given the complex relationship between a sex abuser of children and his victims.
“One of the challenges a prosecutor has is explaining to a jury why this conduct occurs repeatedly, why it isn’t reported immediately and why there is no evidence of physical force,” she said. “It’s emotional force that’s being used, by nature of the relationship, and it is a difficult case to explain to a jury.”
Yet, it happens all the time, everywhere. It should be easy enough to find examples of lawyers or experts who can articulate the issues.