Man gets six years in prison for fondling 13 year old girl |

Man gets six years in prison for fondling 13 year old girl

by Sheila Gardner

A 26-year-old man who admitted trying to talk a 13-year-old girl into having sex was sentenced Monday to six years in prison.

District Judge Michael Gibbons told defendant Michael Anthony Abbott he must serve two years before he is eligible for parole, be under lifetime supervision by probation officials and register as a sex offender.

Abbott said he was “truly sorry for my actions, for my poor decisions.”

He pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault of a child under age 14, saying he believed the girl when she told him she was 16.

“Even if she was 16, she was still too young,” Abbott said.

The victim did not attend the sentencing, but her mother testified Abbott knew the girl was underage because he and his ex-wife rejected her as too immature to be a baby-sitter and he had picked her up at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School.

“The school called and said he was bringing her cigarettes,” the woman said.

She testified she called Abbott at his work and told him the girl was 13. When Abbott said he didn’t believe her, the woman said her husband faxed him a copy of her daughter’s birth certificate, proving she was 13.

The girl is now 14.

Abbott’s lawyer Derrick Lopez said when questioned by Abbott, the girl said she was a 16-year-old ninth grader who had been held back a year and was taking classes at the middle school and high school.

Abbott was arrested April 2, accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with the girl.

Abbott contacted the girl through the MySpace Web site and developed a relationship where he met her on several occasions.

Lopez said Abbott was hoping to meet someone 18-26 online, and the victim’s information came up.

The girl’s parents discovered the relationship and warned Abbott to cease because of her age. They contacted authorities after he continued to be involved with the girl.

Lopez said his client took responsibility for his action, but never intended to force the girl to have sexual intercourse. He was accused of inappropriately touching her.

“After he learned of the birth certificate and the breakup, he had phone contact with her to ease her out of the relationship,” Lopez said.

Her mother testified that the girl had seven MySpace pages and lied about her age on all of them.

Lopez said he wanted to make it clear that Abbott took responsibility for the offense.

“This is something that never should have happened,” Lopez said. “He knows it was his fault. Even if there was a 10-year difference, he should have stayed away. He definitely had clues. He picked her up at middle school. He was the adult. She was the child. He should have looked through the lies.”

Lopez said there was no guarantee that Abbott would be paroled and that he would continue to pay for the crime by having lifetime supervision and registering as a sex offender and a felon whenever he relocates.

Prosecutor Laurie Trotter said Abbott met the victim in secret and provided her with two cell phones so he could contact her privately.

She said the victim had been affected by the incident and began doing better in school after Abbott was arrested.

Abbott’s mother, who lives in North Carolina, testified in court she and Abbott’s stepfather were pastors and prison ministers.

She said her son had never been in trouble before and “has a tender heart and is a good person.”

“My greatest request is that God’s perfect will be done in this,” she said, weeping during the proceedings.

The woman said she also had to think of the offense from the mother’s perspective because she had a daughter.

“She did mislead her age. He is guilty once he found her age and did not stay away from her,” she said, asking, “where is the (victim’s) parental guidance?”

Abbott promised the girl’s mother he would never communicate with or contact her daughter even after she turns 18.

“I really do understand the seriousness of taking advantage of a minor in your community,” he said.

Since he was incarcerated, Abbott said he’d undergone a change which “brought me back to full devotion to God.”

Quoting Scripture, Abbott said his goal was to become a minister and “preach all the days of my life.”

“I hope to put the victim’s parents’ hearts somewhat at ease that I will ever be in their lives again,” Abbott said.

Gibbons told Abbott if he had listened to the girl’s parents about her age and dropped the relationship, he wouldn’t have been in court.

“It seems a little odd to me you would push this issue with her parents. It makes me wonder if you were looking for somebody younger,” Gibbons said.

He gave Abbott credit for 148 days in custody.

Gibbons pointed out that Abbott had no prior criminal records or allegations of improper conduct with minors before this conviction.

“You either knew or should have known, yet you continued on. You say no sex activity happened after you found out how old she was. I think you had your mind set on what you wanted to do,” the judge said.

He said it was outrageous that Abbott would continue to contact the girl after learning of her age.

“It’s just horrendous. I’ve never seen that happen before. It looks really bad,” Gibbons said.