Kelsey Boudin/Olean Times Herald
Tina Wagoner of Salamanca (at rear), who was convicted in June on charges related to child prostitution, awaits sentencing Wednesday morning in Cattaraugus County Court with court-appointed standby defense counsel Bryan Milks and District Attorney Lori Rieman looking on. Wagoner received 35 years in prison.
LITTLE VALLEY — Condemning a perceived lack of remorse, a Cattaraugus County judge sentenced Tina L. Wagoner of Salamanca to up to 35 years in state prison Wednesday for what authorities describe as a frightful, years-long child prostitution saga.
Wagoner, 52 — who was convicted in June of trading a young girl in her care to men for sex in exchange for drugs and alcohol — stood motionless, shackled in a green-and-white striped jail jumpsuit and afterward inquired only about the appeal process.
“The most shocking is the fact the victim was a child in your care,” Judge Ronald Ploetz told Wagoner before handing down the sentence, which also included 10 years of post-release supervision and a permanent order of protection for the victim. “You were supposed to guide her and protect her, but instead you used her. You took away that child’s youth, just as surely as you had put a bullet in her head.”
Following a three-day trial, a jury handed down guilty verdicts June 22 to first-degree rape, a class B felony; first-degree attempted rape, a class C felony; and two counts of second-degree promoting prostitution, class C felonies. The maximum sentence would’ve been 40 years.
While not a direct participant, Wagoner was charged with rape and attempted rape as a facilitator to sex crimes against the girl. The jury determined she received drugs and alcohol as payment for several men having sexual contact with the girl between January 2010 and October 2012, when she was between 10 and 12 years old, at the Hemlock Hills trailer park in Salamanca.
“There’s no evidence of any remorse or even that you care,” Ploetz added.
Investigators after the trial told the Times Herald they believe the abuse could have dated back to when the victim was 7 — she’s now 16 — with up to 30 men. District Attorney Lori Rieman said the true extent of the sexual abuse was nearly impossible to prove.
“The victim was interviewed multiple times, actually, which we try to avoid in most cases, but because of her traumatic situation it took her a while,” Rieman said after sentencing. “Initially … she had told me back pretty far, but it took a while for her to really say what happened. Once she was to that point, several of the men had died and several of them we couldn’t locate. Of course, the ones we could locate denied having any knowledge or involvement.”
The Department of Homeland Security also assisted the investigation.
Reading a victim-impact statement in court Wednesday, the girl said she remembered it beginning when she was 6.
“Tina betrayed me,” the victim said. “… When I think of my childhood memories, I get emotional because the memories I do have are not like other people’s memories. They’re memories of horrible abuse and neglect. These memories flash before my eyes every day.”
She said she wants to “overcome everything,” graduate high school and get a job.
The victim was kept in relative isolation and removed from public school, investigators said. She could read only at a low-elementary level when she was removed at 12 years old from Wagoner’s custody in October 2012, Rieman noted.
“We have a lot of interventions in the schools to try to promote disclosure of sexual abuse or child abuse,” the district attorney said Wednesday, “but all of those tracks are taken away when the child is kept exclusively in the home and not allowed to leave.”
Isn't there someone who checks on children who do not attend school? There should be!
Wagoner, who represented herself on trial with her dismissed defense attorney, Brian Milks, court-appointed as a standby counsel, continued her denials in a defense statement.
“I know I did not trade (the victim) to anybody,” Wagoner said.
Addressing the girl personally, she said, “You’re here today to put me in prison for the rest of my life.”
Wagoner originally was indicted for the crimes alongside three other men in March 2015. Two of the men took lesser plea deals and one’s case was dismissed. Invoking “concert liability” as necessary for her conviction, she asserted the dismissal and plea deals negated the prosecution’s case.
Wagoner continued: “You are now 16, and you can say where you want to live. And they don’t care about you. They might make it appear so, but they don’t. They only care about your money. … The DA never went after the guys she promised she would put away for raping you. She only wanted you to accuse me, and within a few years, they will probably send you a friend to get you hooked on drugs or something.”
This is a deeply troubled woman. I hate to think of what she endured that made her that way.
Rieman visibly scoffed in response.
Wagoner will soon be sent to an all-women’s, maximum-security correctional facility, likely Bedford Hills in Westchester County, Rieman said.
“I feel that justice was done,” she added.
BY DOUG HARLOW STAFF WRITER, Centralmaine.com
SKOWHEGAN — A Skowhegan woman charged with sexual assault and sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy was released on $5,000 unsecured bail Wednesday in Skowhegan District Court.
Jessica Lynn Wells, 29, did not enter a plea before District Court Judge Andrew Benson because the charges are felonies and will go before a grand jury to determine if enough evidence is present to proceed with further court action.
Wells is charged with gross sexual assault, a class B felony; and sexual abuse of a minor, a class C felony. The alleged victim is a boy for whose long-term care Wells was partly responsible.
Dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit in court Wednesday, her hands cuffed in front of her, Wells tearfully told Benson she understood the charges against her. Benson told her that she could go to prison if convicted of the charges and could apply for a court-appointed lawyer.
Wells said she understood.
Unsecured bail is a dollar amount set by a judge, but the defendant does not need to pay the money. Wells was released on several conditions and with a promise to appear for her next court date. If she violates her bail, the state can require her to pay the dollar amount of the unsecured bail — in Wells’ case, $5,000.
The crimes are alleged to have taken place July 13 in Skowhegan. The boy’s mother reportedly received a text message from him and alerted police July 29. Wells was arrested Monday.
A caseworker with the state Department of Health and Human Services conducted interviews in Skowhegan, according to court documents. A police officer sat in on the DHHS interviews, which were audio recorded, and in which Wells admitted the assaults, police said. There also allegedly were other text messages, which police said Wells asked the boy to delete, saying otherwise she would go to jail.
Wells is to have no contact with the boy identified as the victim or with any male under the age of 18. She has a status conference scheduled with the judge, the prosecutor and her lawyer, for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 21
The son of a day care owner in Everman is accused of sexually assaulting at least one child his mother cared for. But police worry there could be more victims.
Everman police say Chance William Moore, 23, sexually assaulted a young girl for two years at his home where his mother ran a day care.
"There are 3 children that are involved. Currently, we are investigating the possibility of there being more,” said Everman Police Sgt. Craig Spencer. "My understanding is this has been an ongoing incident over the last several years."
Police say a child made an outcry last week and said the sex abuse happened "from the time she was 9 years old to the time she was 11 years old."
Case records also say the abuse "stopped only because the victim prevented herself from ever being alone with Chance W. Moore."
"They're trying to make contact with all those families and be very thorough in trying to ascertain exactly how many possibilities victims we're looking at,” said Spencer.
Child Protective Services say Moore's mother got a day care license in 2008. Police say they have at least two other cases, including one from 2008, that involved a relative of Chance Moore.
Police say they want to know if anyone else knew what was going on.
"Anybody else involved in the incident will be charged accordingly,” warned Spencer.
Police say they have families they'd like to talk with over the course of several years to see if they are looking at more victims from the Everman day care. CPS says the day care’s operations have been suspended during the investigation.
Moore is in jail and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.