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07/31/07 Foster dad sentenced to 16 years
Published July 31, 2007 06:00 pm -

14-year-old rape victim asked judge to sentence man to life, says — My life will never be the same.

James Donald Clements, III was sentenced to a total of 16 years in prison Monday on sexual abuse charges. On May 16 a jury found the 28-year-old guilty of three counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of lewd molestation.The jury found Clements not guilty on two counts of forcible sodomy.

A 14-year-old girl clung to her mother until she was called to read a victim’s impact statement before the court. At the time of the abuse, the victim was 12 years old and a foster child in Clements’ care. She said her life would never be the same and asked Judge Dwayne Steidley to give Clements the same sentence she said she is serving – life.

“It is something that no one should ever have to experience,” she said as she described the loss of innocence, depression, emotional isolation from peers, and other emotional trauma. “My life will never be the same.”

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Abitbol told the court Clements had executed a “long committed program to terrorize this young lady.”

This case was unusual in that a video-taped interview was allowed in place of the girl testifying at trial. Recently, taped interviews have been disallowed in favor of an accused’s “right of confrontation.” In this case, both the defense and the prosecution agreed to the video-taped interview, and the judge granted approval.

The defense attorney asked for sex offender counseling for his client.

“We all make choices,” said Steidley, “And this was a tragedy of choices.”

Steidley said the jury had given a lenient sentence in imposing minimum standards but to run consecutively, not concurrently.

“I’m not going to second guess the jury,” said Steidley. Clements received five years for each count of rape by instrumentation and a one-year sentence for the count of lewd molestation.

Abitbol said Clements will have to serve 85 percent of the sentence. He could be eligible for parole in 13.6 years. Clements will go to Lexington for assessment. Abitbol said typically in this type of crime an offender would be assigned to a medium or maximum security prison.

“We appreciate the jury’s work,” said Abitbol. “We respect the verdict. I would have liked to see him get a greater number of years, but the system is the jury makes that determination.”

Abitbol said the abuse in this case was long-term, occurring over months. The victim is currently receiving counseling.

“I hope this little girl can move ahead with her life now,” said Abitbol.

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